Episode 99. Be Our Guest: The Invitation (2015)

The table is set, the wine is poured and the time has come to take your seat at the table as we delve into Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation. From a history of dinner parties to the dynamics of grief, we’re serving up a once in a lifetime, four-course meal of analysis.
Salem Horror Fest 2021 – tickets and info now available!


The Invitation. Dir. Karyn Kusama, 2015.


Millennials have dinner parties, they just don’t call them that. Nisha Chittal’s analysis of the history and evolution of dinner parties.
The American Dinner Party. A detailed breakdown of what constitutes a dinner party by Amy Nash.
Rue Morgue TV: An Expert on Cults Reviews The Lodge.
What is it about California and Cults? A history and analysis of the Golden State’s relationship with cults.
Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism. Amanda Montell’s book about cults and their wide-ranging influence.
One More Time with Feeling. The Nick Cave documentary that follows the singer as he completes the album Skeleton Tree after the death of his son.
The White Album. Joan Didon’s iconic essay and essay collection about the West coast and the end of the ’60s.


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6 thoughts on “Episode 99. Be Our Guest: The Invitation (2015)

  1. James says:

    The themes in this movie are so timely.

    We’re seeing cult activity and deaths of despair on a daily basis here in the States. According to the DEA, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the U.S. last year. Some of those were suicides (suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health), but even among the accidental overdoses, there must people who just don’t care if they die or not. They don’t feel like they’ve got anything to lose in the zero sum game that is America.

    Meanwhile, we have MAGA cultists literally dying in waves in the Red States because they’d rather “own the libs” and risk their lives than get vaxxed. Their great orange god got vaxxed, but they won’t, because they believe they are showing loyalty to him by ignoring science. It seems I read in Washington Post yesterday that GOP leaders are waking up to the notion that killing their voters is maybe not the smartest idea. But, it’s too late: The cult apparently can’t be deprogrammed.

    Living here now is kind of what it must have felt like in Jim Jones’ compound, when it became clear Jones was really going to take everyone with him. The orange god’s cult, which has infiltrated all the way up to Congress, is planning its takeover in 2022 and 2024. It’s like being locked in Eden and David’s house.

    Sorry for the long blather.

    • No apologies needed for me! I agree with your observations. It does indeed feel like many don’t care whether they live or die. Some take actions to push the issue and die. I respect a sentient creature’s right to choose the time of their exit but know (personally and professionally) that one’s choice can “turn on a dime.”

      Regarding the cult of “Trumpites,” I feel rather like Charleton Heston’s character Robert Neville in “THE OMEGA MAN.” The “cure” of reflection and reason is right in front of them but they’d rather dash everything and everyone to the rocks. Hang in there James – you are not alone!

      PS: Hey Faculty – perhaps an episode on the different film iterations of “I AM LEGEND.” 🙂

  2. So excited to see this and then hear the episode. Welcome back Fac!!!!

  3. FictionIsntReal says:

    I don’t think I’ve experienced much in the way of grief & trauma. I’m just lucky, I guess.

    The “deaths of despair” resemble what had already happened to native Americans in previous decades. If you attempted to use “privilege” to predict such deaths you’d do a terrible job, as an economist would tell you after doing a regression.

  4. This is quite a rich episode. My favorite quote is Andrea’s about being a poor schmuck with an expired epi-pen! (Same here pen wise). The deaths of despair is quite a book! I’m still processing much of it. I’ve seen an existential element where people re-examine their assumptions and can “come through” the despair. Of course, that is not in everyone’s nature or, perhaps, toolkit.

    An under-rated cult book is Aurthur Deikmann’s “The Wrong Way Home” (circa 1990). I believe he was the first psychology/psychiatry writer to adopt the term “cult dynamics” as opposed to “cults.” He felt the latter were the real problem and that they could exist on a continuum from “maybe unhealthy” to “really unhealthy.”

    As always, thank you for a compelling dialogue.

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