The less you know about Karyn Kusama's excellent psychological thriller "The Invitation" the better. The trailer promises a dinner party among old friends where something goes very wrong, and that's about all the premise one needs.
The party takes place at a rambling Midcentury Modern home (which has edged out the Victorian mansion as the cinematic creepy house du jour), set deep in the canyons of the Hollywood Hills, eliciting its own dark historical references. Kusama reveals and conceals the geography of the house, parceling out just enough information to understand its logic, while leaving certain dim recesses mysterious.
The house is haunted with memories for the de facto guest of honor, Will (Logan Marshall-Green), a serious bearded man who seems too young to have the past that he does. Will is the proxy through which we experience the increasingly confounding web of suspicion and surprises that are obfuscated by social niceties and facades of politesse.
The writers, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, do a fine job of keeping everyone guessing, deftly planting objects — a glass of wine here, a lantern there — that go from mundane to menacing. When John Carroll Lynch, who played the Zodiac Killer in David Fincher's "Zodiac" and John Wayne Gacy on "American Horror Story," shows up, it doesn't seem likely that this party has a happy ending. Also noteworthy: Radiant Emayatzy Corinealdi plays Will's quietly strong new girlfriend, and Michiel Huisman plays one of the placating but pushy hosts.
Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes.