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Review: The Invitation (2022)

It kind of sucked and we’re not talking about blood.

The Invitation (2022) is a movie that’s not necessarily on anyone’s radar nor does it star any actors of particular note. I mean, it does have High Skinner who plays young Harry in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) so it’s at least got that going for it. That being said, I chose to go see it because the trailer made it look like a spooky, potentially campy and terrible horror movie with vampires and great costumes which sounds like a great time to me. Clearly others had the same idea about The Invitation as I did because the theatre was SURPRISINGLY packed for a movie as below the radar as this. All sorts joined me in the theatre. There was a punk couple, teen douchebags and even a mom and her young daughter. Which was pretty rad of her to bring her daughter to a vampire movie and also totally okay because nothing remotely terrifying or scandalous happens in this movie.

Credit: imdb.com / Sony Pictures Releasing

The Invitation tells the story of Evie, a struggling American artist without much family of her own. When she discovers a distant cousin she never knew she had, he invites her to an elegant wedding in England. However, Evie’s dream come true soon turns into a nightmare as she learns the horrifying reason of why she was invited and the truth about the charming Walter De Ville.

I largely chose this movie to review because the premise and production design made The Invitation look and sound like a gothic romance story. In fact, the story would make for an excellent novel, probably more appropriate than a movie. I was absolutely head over heels in love with the austere, macabre production design of this creepy English mansion. The sets felt like an 18th century horror novel come to life. There wasn’t much that was great about this movie but I can certainly appreciate how fun it was to watch a movie that’s dripping with a rich visual style. Unfortunately, style alone is not enough to save this mediocre monster movie. The romance element of The Invitation is all well and good, but it overpowers the rest of the movie, not even attempting to mix in the horror and instead pushing it to the sidelines. Far too much attention is given to Evie and Walter’s cheesy romance and not nearly enough is given to the potential blood sucking terror! It’s as though the filmmakers were making a romance movie and halfway through production received a call saying they needed to make it a horror movie instead and then just threw some halfhearted vampires and jump scares in. Oh God…so many jump scares.

At least 40 minutes in and Evie didn’t even have an inkling that she was in a horror movie yet. I don’t mean to compare The Invitation to Ready or Not (2019) because they’re nothing alike (except for being about a woman in a wedding dress facing off against a culty family in a creepy mansion) but in THAT movie, the horror was almost instantaneous. Most of the death scenes in The Invitation are either offscreen or alluded to. You don’t even get a good glimpse at the vampires until near the movie’s end! The movie is so great to look at, such an excellent use of costuming and sets that I can’t help but think of all the fantastically creepy mysteries and horror stories I would have much rather been told by these filmmakers. When things do finally get spooky and enjoyably stupid (Stephanie Corneliussen is doing the Lord’s work with her over the top performance) it morphs into the movie I wish The Invitation had been from the get. I can’t believe it wasted so much time being anything else.

The majority of this movie is just What a Girl Wants (2003) with vampires. By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. I, much like Evie, certainly got swept up in the luxury of The Invitation. I mean, a sprawling mansion, free designer gowns, a champagne glass that never seems to empty…the vampires may be worth enduring for such a life! Although for me, the vampires would be a selling point as well. Oh my God, I forgot to mention the most bizarre and pathetic thing about The Invitation! It is littered with blatant “Dracula” references. From plot points to the settings to characters literally named Jonathan and Mina Harker, it seems like this movie is trying in vain to piggyback off the success of the iconic novel. I suppose the screenwriter had no choice but to lift character names from the novel because wow, every character in this movie is one ridiculous British name after another. I mean, Lucy Billington?

At the very least, I can’t say I was bored by The Invitation. It’s not very good, but it’s dumb and stylish and slightly campy so it’s worth a watch when it comes to Netflix. Seriously, when it comes to Netflix. Don’t spend your money on this. Watch it at home for free with some red wine. Y’know, cause blood? At least you’ll be more on the vampire theme than this movie ever was.

Have you seen The Invitation?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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