Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: A struggling artist living in New York City takes a DNA test and discovers that she has relatives living in England with the last name Alexander. When her cousin invites her to a family wedding, she is horrified when she learns about the dark secret buried within the Alexander bloodline.
Review: For my second Spooktober review, I have chosen the American horror thriller The Invitation which was released by Sony Pictures on the 26th of August. Directed by Jessica M. Thompson (The Light of the Moon) and written by Blair Butler (G4’s Attack of the Show!), the film was inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. Maybe a lot of you rolled your eyes upon hearing this but wait, there’s more! While the story’s execution and fluidity were weak you have to give credit where it’s due.
Let’s begin with the story. Nathalie Emmanuel, best known for her roles in the last three Fast and Furious films and as Missandei in HBO’s Game of Thrones, plays the role of Evie Jackson, a struggling artist living in New York City. Evie is still grieving over her mother’s death from cancer just a few months ago and lacks inspiration. However, after sending in a DNA test, she receives a response from Cousin Oliver Alexander (Hugh Skinner) who resides in England. Oliver tells her of a family scandal involving her great-grandmother, Emmaline. She had an affair with a Black footman and had a secret child even though she was engaged to be married. Evie is a direct descendant of that affair. Things move swiftly when Oliver invites her to a family wedding taking place in England. Evie soon finds herself at New Carfax Abbey (pay attention to the name of the manor, Bram Stoker’s Dracula fans). She meets the handsomely charming Lord of the Manor, Walt De Ville (Thomas Doherty) and sparks immediately fly between them. However, a series of creepy encounters and events lead the way up to a centuries-old pact with extremely bloody consequences. And poor Evie is faced with the most important decision of her life.
This was not the first attempt to revive Stoker’s Dracula characters in modern-day settings. One of my favourite adaptations of this is Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000. Where The Invitation falters and Dracula 2000 succeeds is in the development of the relationship between the vampire and the mortal chosen as the next bride. The relationship has to be way more intense and build up to a conflict of conscience and emotions for the intended bride character, in this case, Evie. I didn’t get that from the story which is what makes the final confrontation between vampire and bride so anti-climactic. It had all the zeal of a wet mop, and the special effects weren’t that great either. But special effects aside, which I can excuse due to perhaps a limited budget, I can appreciate what they were trying to achieve here.
Nathalie Emmanuel does an excellent job with the script that she is given. I just thought that they could have done a bit more for the ending credit scene which came off a bit more than cheesy. The location was amazing and the perfect picture of an old manor that would be written about in a typical gothic horror novel. In terms of the scare factor, honestly, there was nothing that would have elicited a jump or a frightened shriek from the audience. There were a few decent creepy scenes by using darkness and shadows, but still nothing particularly unique. The costume design for Evie was simple and pretty and yet succeeded in drawing the audience’s attention to the main character.
The Invitation is not a terrible film by any means and doesn’t break the mould for Gothic vampire horror, but it does a decent job of entertaining the audience due to the strong female lead and a story that doesn’t immediately reveal the direction that it’s headed.
Score: 5.5 out of 10
And you can sink your teeth into more vampire content below:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More