The Invitation Review: A Spooky Slog

If someone sends you an invitation to watch this movie, don’t accept it. Fake your own death if you have to. The Invitation is a horror film about a woman named Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) who gets a DNA kit and learns she has extended family in England. After meeting with her cousin Oliver (Hugh Skinner), she agrees to visit the rest of her family in a mansion. However, things take a dark turn, and she finds herself in a fight to survive. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if your 23AndMe went horribly wrong, this movie gives you an answer.

The Invitation is a bad horror movie in a unique way. Everyone has seen great horror films and everyone has seen terrible so-bad-it’s-good horror films. This movie is neither. It operates around the middle, where it’s a forgettable, “nothing” experience. The movie never offers the entertainment that it could have given, and everything about it feels like it’s giving you recycled ideas that you’ve already seen done better. This film doesn’t do anything to make it a cinematic atrocity, but there is nothing that would make it a movie worth recommending.

Fortunately for some, the trailer for The Invitation gives away the entire plot. If you’re looking to watch the whole film for free in 2 minutes and 38 seconds, complete with a giveaway of the plot twist, you can check out the trailer. If you have not been deterred by my warnings not to watch this, I will not spoil a thing about what this film is about. It features a classic horror movie setup, with the protagonist being taken out of their comfort zone to a new, secluded place free of cell phone service and ways to escape. Where it goes from there is relatively unremarkable.

The set design in The Invitation is excellent. The film is set in a large, scary mansion, which is gold for a contained horror movie like this. Director Jessica M. Thompson, who has previously done phenomenal work in The Light of the Moon, does a fine job with the dark atmosphere. There are a few jump scares, some of which are almost effective while others are quite pathetic. It’s not a poorly directed horror film, but much of the movie feels very standard. None of the horror is likely to stick in your memory after the credits roll, leading to a film with a few scary scenes without an overarching sense of dread.

There are easy comparisons when it comes to a movie with this premise and structure. Many have described this as Get Out meets Ready Or Not, an apt description of what The Invitation aspires to be but never reaches as far as quality. The twist doesn’t happen for a while into the film, which makes it feel like the movie takes an hour to really get started. While something like this works in Get Out, which consistently built tension and had rich themes and characters, it doesn’t work in The Invitation because it feels like a romance movie with horror scenes spliced into the film at random points.

The Invitation‘s central romance can feel overwritten and underwritten simultaneously, partially due to the lack of chemistry between the two leads. For the record, Emmanuel gives an excellent performance in the movie, donning a flawless American accent. Thomas Doherty has a lot of fun with his role as Walter De Ville, and Hugh Skinner is great as Oliver Alexander, but it feels like the movie completely forgets to use his character after the first act. The film can suffer from taking itself too seriously, ultimately leading to a waste of time.

Despite The Invitation‘s attempts to be scary and entertaining, this is a movie where you will not care for anything you watch despite all your best efforts. It cannot rise above how generic and dull a lot of it is, never bringing the story to satisfying conclusions. While there are worse horror movies out there, this is an aggressively lame movie with a good idea here and there, but not enough to make it worth watching.

SCORE: 4/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 4 equates to “Poor.” The negatives overweigh the positive aspects making it a struggle to get through.


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