The Invitation (2022) Review: As we’ve come to expect at this point, Sony-produced films often run intensive marketing campaigns that are lazy and highly unimaginative. The trailer for “The Invitation” was no different, revealing way too much from the film, including its third-act twist, that confused the horror genre fans. But if one is to look at their history, it wouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, even the initial trailers for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” gave away the friendly neighborhood’s final showdown.

The movie revolves around Evelyn (Nathalie Emmanuel of “Game of Thrones“), a twenty-something New Yorker who insists that everyone (including even random strangers) call her Evie. A free-spirited girl in pursuit of her artistic ambitions for creating ceramics, she once comes across a swag bag at a swanky affair for Find Yourself, where she finds a DNA test among some other goodies that help you to investigate your family tree. It, of course, is the first of many mistakes the protagonist in this horror film makes.

Nathalie Emmanuel, Thomas Doherty in The Invitation (2022) Review

The message leads to a coffee meeting with Oliver Alexander (Hugh Skinner), an aggressively ingratiating young Brit who makes time during a New York business trip in order to invite her to a wedding at a huge country house in England. The impromptu trip leads to a large family reunion and an opportunity to meet long-lost relatives, where mysterious things unravel. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, because even if it doesn’t, “The Invitation” would remind you how well the template has been used in recent contemporary films by reminding you of how Evelyn is a far-flung descendant of an old family.

Oliver is conspicuously Caucasian but convinces a Black lady of how her ancestors were the spawn of a then-scandalous affair. Walter (a seductive Thomas Doherty), the young lord of the manor, is a super hunky white man (like all other family members) with piercing blue eyes. Walter and Evelyn strike an affair together, which we’re supposed to find charming as the film insists on developing it through stretched-out sequences.

The performances in the movie are fairly good, with the actors doing everything with the paper-thin character building on a script. Both Emmanuel and Doherty ooze with a mix of charm and charisma, as the latter gives hints of something more unsettling brewing in the background. The odd interactions with smirky and strange glimpses hint at the film’s larger mystery laboriously lead itself to. Don’t get me wrong, the movie also had me appreciating its world-building; the lavish estate in some exterior shots resembles a miniature model far isolated from the rest of the country space- the sort of place where spooky stuff always happens.

The creepily authoritative head butler of the manor, Mr. Field (Sean Pertwee), warns the new arrival that she can enter any room “except the library – we’re renovating.” Director Jessica M. Thompson instills a fairly decent sense of visual sensibility into some scenes; some shots look genuinely well-composed, providing the depth and use of shadows the genre demands. “The Invitation,” very likely, then, is the kind of horror film where the atmosphere is actually more intriguing than what it eventually leads to. So much so that I was willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt that it would end up as a fairly presented, self-aware, a reverse-engineered product of the template we’ve seen being used so well in the genre.

“The Invitation” very much feels like two movies tied to one, none of which find any equal footing in their attempts at evoking any thrill. It reminded me of how well James Wan had blended genres into his 2021 film, “Malignant.” That film juggled many tones of the genre, including body horror and science fiction horror, while balancing narrative cues from psychological thrillers and monster movies. It all seemed to merge into something seemingly way more coherent, but the makers of this film failed to ignite any blend needed to create something that exciting.

Despite borrowing from the narrative cues of films like “Get Out” and the structural style of “Ready Or Not,” “The Invitation,” at almost every turn, feels immensely derivative. But worse than that, the movie spends so much time with its eye trained someplace else that it feels totally lifeless. The only time the film tries to give us any context behind its twisted world is in its last few minutes. And trust me when I say that the movie doesn’t hold back once it gets to that point; the dialogues in the previous act get so in the face and cheesy that instead of laughing along with the movie, you feel frustrated thinking, why is the filmmaker didn’t embrace the 80s pulpy style earlier. Eventually, you realize how it is all built towards something utterly forgettable and uninspiring.

Also, Read – The Invitation (2022) Movie, Ending Explained – What Purpose Did Evie Have At The Wedding?

Where to watch The Invitation (2022)

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