‘The Invitation’ Is An Average Vampire Movie That Doesn’t Live Up To Its Inspirations [Review]

‘The Invitation’ Is An Average Vampire Movie That Doesn’t Live Up To Its Inspirations [Review]

A gothic mansion, gorgeous costumes, and an eerily well-organized crowd. The invite has everything you expect from a vampire movie.

After the death of her mother and with no other known relatives, Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) takes a DNA test…and discovers a long-lost cousin she didn’t know she had. Invited by her new family to a lavish wedding in the English countryside, she is initially seduced by the sexy aristocratic host, but is quickly thrown into a survival nightmare as she uncovers twisted secrets in the history of her family. family and the disturbing intentions behind their culpable generosity.

Based on the trailer and premise alone, it’s easy to draw parallels between The invite and other horror stories like Dracula and 2019 Ready or Not. But can this vampire flick cut its teeth amid the success of its predecessors?

What works in Invitation

First of all – The invite looks exactly how you want it to look.

DeVille Mansion is brooding and gothic, the perfect dark and aristocratic vibe for a classic haunted/vampire mansion story. We’re talking centuries-old sculptures and canopy beds draped in fabric and rooms lit by antique chandeliers and candles. It has this feeling of great emptiness and ominousness. From the moment Evie walks in, you know things are going to get worse.

Likewise, there is great attention to detail in the costumes for The invite, especially for Evie. (Her red feathered ballgown is an amazing look.) Overall, the aesthetic of The invite really delivers and helps audiences feel fully transported by what they are watching.

To tie it all together, it’s Emmanuel in the lead role. You might know her from her recurring role on HBO game of thronesor its appearances in the most recent installments of the fast furious franchise. But The invite really proves that Emmanuel can hold his own as a great lady. She makes Evie feel very grounded and likeable every step of the way.

Finally, while The invite charts its own path, the film also features fun Easter eggs and references for Dracula Fans. I’m actually reading Bram Stoker’s novel for the first time, so I really enjoyed the inclusion of Jonathan, Mina, and Lucy in the film. It’s not enough to distract from this film’s plot, but it’s enough to give fans of classic vampires a little something extra to enjoy while watching.

…and what doesn’t work

Earlier I mentioned The invite works as a mashup between Dracula and Ready or Not. Unfortunately, it is a film that does not correspond to any of his inspirations.

If you’ve watched the trailer for this movie, you know exactly what’s going to happen. Even if not, by the time Evie arrives at the mansion, it’s pretty obvious that Walt (Thomas Doherty) draws him into his infamous web.

And that’s good, as a premise. Many stories – especially in horror – operate on dramatic irony. We, the audience, know something the protagonist doesn’t; it should increase our anxiety for them as they walk unknowingly into danger.

But in The invite, this approach never really lands. Evie doesn’t realize she’s been lured into the vampire’s lair until the final third of the film. (On the other hand, one of the best things about Ready or Not was how the story launched the central premise so quickly. You didn’t have to wait two-thirds of the way through the movie for Samara Weaving to know everyone was trying to hunt her for sport.)

Not only does this rhythm make the final (and most interesting) part of The invite feeling rushed, it drags the middle. The focus is on building Evie and Walt’s romance – presumably to make the moment when she discovers his true nature more dramatic. But to the audience – who have already assumed from the start what Walt is doing – it seems like wasted screen time. Although audiences know Walt is a vampire, his Evie charm still feels more “romantic drama” than sinister. Instead of ratcheting up the tension of the film’s other horror elements, it tones them down a bit, creating a “big real” that surprises no one but Evie.

(Left to right) Thomas Doherty as Walt and Nathalie Emmanuel as Evie in The Invitation

In the same way, The invite also falls a bit flat because it feels like it should be a movie with more to say. Before the whole vampirism business becomes a problem, Evie’s journey to meet her extended family puts her on a tightrope of tension along the lines of race and class. This unique configuration gave The invite the chance to delve deeper than surface-level scares and corny vampire horror. But beyond a throwaway joke about colonization, the story never really tackles these issues. Vampire stories have always been laden with social subtext; it’s like a missed opportunity The invite don’t do more here.

Globally, The invite is a passable, if not particularly memorable or impactful, entry into the vampire genre. It may scratch your itch for the goth aesthetic, but it will mostly remind you of better invitations you’ve accepted before.

The invite premieres in theaters on August 26.

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