It is an understandingly arduous task to make vampires appealing after the likes of films such as Twilight, and the most recent Day Shift on Netflix, starring Jamie Foxx, and right off the bat; this is not going to sway anyone into liking vampires more or less than they already do.
The Invitation opens with our protagonist Evie, played by Nathalie Emmanuel of Game of Thrones fame, a low earning caterer and starving artist whose last known family member has recently passed away. She gets the idea to do a ’23 and me’ style DNA test to see if she has any remaining living relatives, and surprisingly she matches with an English man named Oliver. Oliver and Evie meet up for a quick meal, and he mentions that he is going to a wedding in the English countryside, and he would love to have her along for the ride, and you guessed it; it's all-expenses paid. Evie is swiftly brought to a beautiful mansion equipped with butlers and maids, and it's there where we meet the dashing host, Lord Walter Deville. Walter is as charismatic and alluring as ever, and Evie is wooed by the luscious host almost immediately. From there, Evie eventually realizes something is off in this place and begins to notice the oddities all around the mansion ultimately leading into vampirism.
The problem with this film comes from the severe lack of original ideas involving the mythical creatures of the night. Evie as a character is likable enough, but she feels hollow and uninspired like every other heroine in a vampire tale. Not to mention, this film is just flooded with almost every vampire cliché to date, from the dashingly handsome Lord Walter Deville in his ‘old money’ castle, to the comic relief best friend who has to constantly be filled in on everything Evie is doing on a daily basis. The film even includes the jealous ex, because of course it does. Additionally, our big bad vampire Walter has completely identical motivations to every single vampire in any vampire story ever created leaving zero room for any original or new ideas. The plot doesn’t really add anything to vampire lore that we haven’t already seen in any other vampire film, and done better. Not only that, the plot pacing feels so incredibly slow that nothing really happens for about two thirds of the film. I felt like I was constantly waiting for something to happen, but alas, it never does. Don’t get me started on the awkward CG in some scenes too.
I do have to commend this film for trying to tell a new vampire story, but it really just ends up feeling dull and flat by the end. The Invitation lacks a ton of originality making it feel like you have already seen this story before. The snail-like pacing, unoriginal characters and cliches, and poor direction adds nothing to the viewing experience. The final 3rd of the film has to carry the load of the first two, and even then, I felt unfulfilled. I am a sucker for vampires, so I try to always give them the benefit of the doubt, but this one in particular doesn’t do anything fresh enough for me, and really just feels unnecessary overall.
Review By: Dimitreus Newell