You’re Invited to a Very Meh Film

The Invitation has an interesting horror presence but a very dull execution

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Courtesy of Sony Pictures

The Invitation and the reviews has been put the film out to be “a bad horror film in a unique way”. The critical response on the website rotten tomato’s reveals 27% of 51 reviews are positive.

Makenzie Carpenter-Sais, Staff Writer

Sony Pictures relased their latest horror offering The Invitation on August 26. While the film has grossed over $26 million worldwide and been a moderate success for Sony, it’s also been receiving mixed reviews from both critics and audiences. After watching the movie, it’s easy to see why reception has been mixed: Jessica M. Thompson’s breakout film has beautiful visuals and a great story concept, but its slow pace and third-act plot problems prevent it from being a bigger hit. 

The story starts strong: after the death of her mother and only living relative, Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) decides to take a DNA test to try to find if she has any family anywhere else. The test is successful, and she meets her long-lost British cousin Oliver (Hugh Skinner), who soon invites her to a lavish wedding in the English countryside. Evie soon becomes mesmerized by the desirable host of the wedding Walter (Thomas Doherty), but is perplexed that she never meets the bride and groom. Shortly after, she finds herself in a nightmare as she discovers the dark twisted secrets about her family history, the disturbing intentions of her host, and the disappearance of several of the maids. 

The relationship between Walter and Evie is very realistic and drives the film. Thomas Doherty and Nathalie Emmanuel did a splendid job with the film giving viewers the full experience, both actors worked really well together and looked rather well on screen together. Emmanuel is great at portraying different emotions in quick succession, and Doherty does great work playing a mysterious and charming (and yes, very hot) English lord. The tension Evie faces between being suspicious of Walter and falling in love with him drives the story, which is why the story suffers so much at the end when she finally makes up her mind about Walter.

Other than the main two characters (and a hilarious performance by Courtney Taylor as Evie’s sassy friend back home Grace),  the acting lacks depth and feels like the entire cast is just reading lines. Everyone has just one quality that makes up their entire personality: the head butler is grumpy, the main maid is clumsy, the head matron is worried, the tall beautiful woman is catty, and the short beautiful woman is friendly. None of these characters leave any impression on the viewer, so when the horror of the horror movie starts and some characters start dying, their deaths are meaningless.

While the actors are by and large not great, their makeup is. Without spoiling the type of monster the characters become in the film (though it’s obvious to anyone who’s seen the trailer), the transformations into monsters blend CGI and makeup effects perfectly. Sadly, other effects in the fight scenes weren’t as polished, with choppy edits and some fake-looking fire. Yet the film has lots of impressive visuals, from the ornate yet creepy rooms in Walter’s chateaux to the jaw-dropping dresses made for the wedding scene.

It’s hard to talk about the biggest flaw of the movie without spoiling it: the twist. As the genre is horror, Evie’s concerns that something sinister is going on are realized as her request to join the family comes at a terrifying price. The twist starts well enough, introducing the secrets of Evie’s new family, but soon spirals into cheesy nonsense when it becomes apparent that Walter isn’t actually Walter but someone familiar to any horror audience. In my screening, it was evident that this revelation took viewers out of the movie as they started to roll their eyes and mutter to their friends.

Overall, the film is a good bad horror film, as in it’s a fun thriller for people who want a quick scare and enjoy B-movies.  But this film is as tacky as any dollar-bin horror film, and most audiences would find the story unsatisfying. The Invitation is not a must-see or a rewatchable film, but it’s good enough for a date or night out with friends.