Released: 25th August
Seen: 9th December

The Invitation Info

It’s been said a few times that 2022 has just been a fantastic year for horror. It feels like every few weeks there’s another horror film coming out and a shocking amount of them have been absolutely incredible. From surprising microbudget hits like Terrifier 2 to major releases like Scream, horror this year has been on another level of quality the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time. However, even in a year full of fantastic horror films there will always be a few major duds and it’s fair to say that The Invitation might be the biggest horror dud of 2022.

When a woman named Evelyn “Evie” Jackson (Nathalie Emmanuel) does a DNA test, turns out she’s 100% related to a bunch of extremely wealthy people in England, more specifically she’s a distant cousin of Oliver Alexander (Hugh Skinner) who has the bright idea of inviting her to a wedding in England where she can meet the rest of her family. Not seeing any red flags here whatsoever, Evie agrees and soon is whisked off to the fancy manor the wedding is happening at, the manor itself belonging to Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty). 

Things seem to be going well enough, maybe a few maids go missing when no one is looking but nothing that actually matters until Evie and Walter start getting closer and soon Evie learns that the wedding in question might actually be one where she’s expected to be the bride and there might also be something very wrong with Walter and two random bridesmaids who don’t actually matter and it’s all so boring and repetitive that it’ll make you consider having a nap until it’s all over.

The Invitation is a slow build that leads to absolutely nothing and has no reason to be going this slowly. The idea behind it is very simple and effective, a young woman turning up to a wedding is met by a strange family who harbours a twisted secret that jeopardises the young woman’s life and is also a pointed critique of class systems. We know this idea works because anyone who saw Ready or Not has seen it work but The Invitation is not as smart, funny or interesting as Ready or Not. 

The Invitation (2022) - Nathalie Emmanuel & Thomas Doherty
The Invitation (2022) – Nathalie Emmanuel & Thomas Doherty

The Invitation fails on several levels but the biggest one is just the pacing issue. The big reveal that Evie is actually in danger (a moment that they put in the trailer, ruining the only potential shock moment this film had) happens about an hour into The Invitation… so we spend the first hour just watching people getting ready for a wedding and a tepid love story between Evie and Walter and that’s about as interesting as trying to come up with a convoluted metaphor for how boring something is. It’s honestly just a painful sit, only broken up by occasional cutaways to some maids being killed off because someone at some point remembered this is a horror movie and there should at least be some kind of scare before the final act!

Now normally a big third-act twist reveal would be something to try and avoid, especially in a review but part of there are two problems here. The first is that a lot of the big issues with The Invitation are intrinsically linked to that major reveal and the second thing is that it’s not even a reveal, it’s in the trailer and even the poster basically screams “Oh, this is trying to be a gothic horror film about vampires” because oh boy, there are vampires here and they look like shit. How shit? Buffy did better vampire effects and that series was working on a 90s cable TV budget.

The Invitation honestly just looks bad, either it’s lit and framed so poorly that you can’t get a handle on where everything is (which makes it hard to build tension or be shocked when someone appears out of nowhere) or it’ll have compositing so bad you would swear you can see a halo around things that’ve been edited in. Hell, the final few shots are so bad that there are YouTubers using free particle effects overlays going “God, I can do better than that” and they aren’t kidding.

When the bad visuals aren’t making this a chore to watch, it’s just kind of dull with no real tension or creative character choices. Sure the actors are all fine, they do the job they’ve been asked to do but they don’t have anything to work with. You couldn’t name a single personality trait about any of them or even a memorable line that they say, unless “The English one” and “The sexy English one” count as personality traits and I refuse to accept that they do. It’s a shame because each of these actors has been good in the past in other roles, they’re not bad here but they have nothing to work with so they rely on their own natural charm to try and carry The Invitation and it’s just not working.

The Invitation is just dull, start to finish it’s a chore to get through because nothing happens for so long and when something does happen it’s so badly presented that it’s impossible to give a shit. The final reveal was spoiled in the trailers but even if it wasn’t, it’s not a good reveal. There’s nothing scary, nothing interesting, nothing creative going on here. Surprise, a film that sold itself on being from “the producer of The Curse of La Llorona” is actually quite bland and not worth a moment of your time, shocking.

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