There have been a lot of films that feature a man or woman who is trying to find himself or herself and so he or she gets wrapped up in some kind of adventure or conspiracy inadvertently. And usually, they have a friend who is like a conscience type of character. The film Get Out by Jordan Peele comes to mind most recently as an example of this plot. The Invitation, not the 2015 film of the same name, is another film in this subgenre of horror.
After a girl who hangs herself and breaks a ceramic head, the film starts to focus on its main character. Evie Jackson (Nathalie Emmanuel) After she has endured the loss of her mother she is working as a server at a restaurant and she gets a swag bag with a DNA Test called Find Yourself. A long-lost cousin, Oliver Alexander (Hugh Skinner) reaches out to her. When they finally meet he invites her to a wedding in Yorkshire, England.
She agrees to fly to England and when she gets to Yorkshire she is introduced to the extended family. The Lord of the manor house, known as New Carfax, is Walter Deville (Thomas Doherty) Like most English manors this house has servants such as Mr. Field (Sean Pertwee) the head butler, and other maids and so forth. The inner workings of this house are typical for this area of England. The Emmanuel character is completely enamored by this entire world.
The film has an expansive cast of characters and some of the other ones besides the main ones are the bridesmaid’s Victoria & Lucy (Stephanie Corneliussen, Alana Boden); they are a bit creepy, and jealous of Evie. There are plenty of maids and footmen as well. Also Ms. Swift (Carol Ann Crawford) is the head of the woman servants. There are many family members and local townspeople in the cast like Jonathan and Mina Harker (Jeremy Wheeler, Elizabeth Counsel)
The technical aspects of the film are some of the best parts. The cinematography by Autumn Aiken is beautiful. She has made this film definitely something very good to look at in every scene. The house and all its various rooms are shot impeccably. Along with the house comes the clothes everyone wears. The dresses and suits are fit for a big sprawling English wedding such as that which is in this movie. And the hair and makeup look the part as well. The filmmakers spared no expense on these aspects of the film.
With all the good must also come the bad and unfortunately, there is a lot of bad in this film. The story by Blair Butler and the director Jessica Thompson takes too long to develop. Once it finally kicks into gear it falls back on way too many tropes used in films such as this. The main plot points are very predictable and anybody who has seen a vampire film before could have figured them out about halfway through the film. I sure did. It wasn’t hard to see through this paper-thin plot.
At the forefront, The Invitation had good intentions of being a film that was going to be an entertaining thriller with popular tropes used in horror films for the Halloween season. This film looks very good and the technical aspects are that of competent people in their field of expertise. The direction is fine, but the writing is not very good. The story is very pedestrian and most of the plot points are predictable and telegraphed a mile away. It’s sad because this film had the makings of something special but it fell apart in the execution. I look forward to seeing Nathalie Emmanuel in films but she was wasted in this one.
Dan Skip Allen
In theaters on August 26th