I gotta be honest I only saw this movie because I had nothing better to do, and after walking out of the theater, I should have just settled for doing nothing.
Following a young, struggling artist named Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel), The Invitation sees her invited (duh) to a family wedding for a set of relatives she only recently discovered she shares familial blood with. Traveling from NYC to England to meet her distant kin, Evie soon realizes something is off about a group of privileged individuals that are far more mysterious than they initially let on. Seeing apparitions of a long-dead member of the house and noticing that maids seem to be going missing thanks to someone — or something — that the family won’t talk about, Evie enters into a flirtatious relationship with the lord of the manor, Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty), and the dark life he’s dragged her into, kick-starting a journey that sees Evie face a kind of evil she has no way of defending against.
As mentioned above, I really had no desire to catch this one in theaters, and judging by the quality of the final product, it’s a wonder how this one made it there in the first place. Scripted in a way that feels amateurish at best, The Invitation boasts a cast (especially Nathalie Emmanuel) that does just enough to carry the story along but never intrigues enough to stop audiences from feeling a bit bored at times.
Produced and directed in a way that barely lends itself to having a spooky baseline, the overall scare factor of the film feels a bit like an afterthought as the movie never goes beyond the cliche and uninspired scenes audiences have seen before. Couple that with the fact that most of the characters involved are undeveloped and don’t add much to the proceedings, and by the time the “good stuff” happens, I was mostly just waiting around for the credits to roll.
And while I have to admit that when said “good stuff” does happen, things tick up just enough to pique my interest, it was ultimately too little too late for this one, as the admittedly enjoyable third act twist works better than expected, if only for a moment. Having no idea that this one was — spoiler alert! — a vampire story at heart, the fact that the entire movie hinges on this mysterious evil that goes unseen and tangentially addressed throughout the film only to make it the main reveal of the story immediately turns this film into a more exciting experience that unfortunately doesn’t last long. And as the dust settles from the vampire reveal, little else mattered in this movie to a point that I almost didn’t care about the extra bloodshed spilled in the finale — something I wish there was more of — proving that if a little more effort was put into this one, we totally could have had something that turned out much better.
Though this one’s far less interesting than it thinks it is and a bit more contrived than necessary — especially when it comes to a vampire angle that doesn’t do enough to make it something worth exploring — you could do worse than The Invitation. But as it stands, it’s still a movie that doesn’t have much substance despite a few good elements in between, and for that, this one ultimately becomes a forgettable movie-going experience.