Some guests were not invited…..
The authors of Santa Monica once again illuminate the dark truths of life in sunny California in this twisty and atmospheric psychological thriller about a 50th birthday celebration on a remote mountainside in Topanga Canyon, where things go terrifyingly wrong.
For Los Angeleno Dani Sanders, turning 50 seems like one more disappointment. Her career has stalled, her nineteen-year-old daughter with developmental issues is regressing, and Dani’s ex-husband Craig, a fertility doctor worshipped by Hollywood’s elite, is forever upending her life. Though she doesn’t feel much like celebrating, she can’t say no when her best friend Mia Markle, a flamboyant and strong-willed actress, insists on planning a “creative” birthday weekend in the wild, wealthy bohemian enclave of Topanga Canyon.
On the weekend of the Summer Solstice, Dani and her six closest friends gather in the hills above the canyon at “Celestial Ranch,” 18-acres of rugged, wooded mountainside where they’ll spend three glorious days hiking, practicing meditation and reiki, and enjoying lavish catered cuisine. They will also indulge in a little DMT, a short-acting psychedelic drug meant to open their senses and transport them to a higher plain. But as the weekend unfolds, long-buried tensions, unresolved grievances, and old secrets emerge, leaving Dani desperate for clarity about her life.
Dani and her friends take the drug late at night on an open hillside beneath the glittering stars. When Dani returns from her intense and revelatory "trip," she learns that one of her friends has gone missing. Then another disappears. And soon, Dani finds herself alone on the dark mountainside, seemingly abandoned by the people who are supposed to love her most.
Or have they somehow been taken from her?
What could Dani have possibly done to deserve a devastating birthday night like this—and how will she make it to the morning alone?
Barreling toward her big five-oh, Santa Monica esthetician Dawn Sanders, the protagonist of the pseudonymous Lucas's entertaining sophomore effort (after 2020's Santa Monica), is beyond surprised when long-estranged BFF, TV star Mia Meadows, throws her a birthday weekend at the idyllic Celestial Ranch atop Topanga Canyon. From the outset little goes according to Mia's plan nude footrace in the meadow at 10 a.m! DMT (a drug that "simply gives you access to your own deep consciousness for a few minutes") under the full moon! psychic readings on demand! for an event reuniting the once tightly knit members of a therapy group for parents of children with spectrum disorders, and that's even before some memorable mayhem resulting from the escalating war between the husband and wife who own the isolated ranch. Feelings flare, tempers fray, power fails, and Dawn starts to get the alarming sense her erstwhile friends may be out to settle some long-simmering scores with her. Lucas builds tension through the skillful interweaving of a pair of subplots, and succeeds in satirizing characters who richly deserve it without losing sight of their humanity. Liane Moriarty fans will be pleased.