When Hostel (2005) and Turistas (2006) came out, I was convinced that I should never travel abroad. Besides, why should I have to cross an ocean or border when there are horrific things that could happen to me while I’m home, see The Strangers (2008).
Well, it’s been a couple years since there was a film that served as a cautionary tale for would be globetrotters and Hollywood wanted to serve up another. That’s where the newest movie by Screen Gems, The Invitation, comes into play.
Written by Blair Butler and directed by Jessica M. Thompson, The Invitation follows ceramic enthusiast Evie (played by Nathalie Emmanuel) as she sends some DNA off to an Ancestry.com clone in an attempt to find long lost family. As look would have it, she finds a cousin (played by Hugh Skinner) who invites her to travel to England to meet the rest of the family. There just so happens to be a wedding going on and all the family really, really wants Evie to join them. When she arrives, she meets Lord Walter (played by Thomas Doherty) who instantly starts courting her. What follows is a crazy gothic tale.
For being rated PG-13, I felt they pushed the rating to its limits in terms of blood, gore, violence, and sexual content. It’s right on the edge. Having said that, I didn’t feel like the film needed additional blood, gore, violence, or sexual content. For the type of movie, The Invitation had just the right levels of each category.
The two main characters, Evie and Walter, are perfectly cast. Emmanuel plays Evie as a confidant, self-sufficient woman who doesn’t really need a guy to show her what to do. However, when she meets Lord Walter, she can’t help but swoon under his charisma. Even though this is a horror movie, and you sort of know that things at Lord Walter’s manor aren’t on the up and up, you can’t help but root for their relationship to end well. Before everything went off the rails, I was pretty content in having the movie head into a romance path instead of a blood and gore path. This wasn’t Pretty Woman though, so things did go off the rails. Doherty’s portrayal of Walt is a great one. He nails the creepy yet charismatic rich Lord role.
The film is a typical gothic horror movie where the main character travels to a manor and gets involved in the supernatural over the course of a couple days. Throughout her stay, Evie sees things that appear out of the norm, but since she’s in a foreign land she typically dismisses them. The audience knows that something is amiss because the tension builds right up until the actual rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding when everything goes bananas.
The supporting cast is led by Sean Pertwee (Alfred on the Gotham television show) who plays Mr. Fields, the head butler. Pertwee does a great job playing a role that audiences will hate.
Overall, I thought this was a nice addition to the gothic horror genre. It’s not one that you have to go see in theaters, but if you’re bored and want something to watch I’d recommend The Invitation.