The Invitation (Blu-ray)

A young woman is courted and swept off her feet, only to realize a gothic conspiracy is afoot.

November 1, 2022 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Has there ever been a vampire movie that doesn’t actually use the word “vampire?” That’s meant to be rhetorical, but in case someone out there is being very literal – I don’t think there has. With full disclosure in mind, I’ll be the first to admit that I’d not seen a trailer for this film. In fact, had it not been featured on a episode of Big Brother – I’d have not been aware of its existence. For those not familiar, the aforementioned TV show sometimes showcases movies as rewards for the cast members. To date, anyone who’s seen a movie on the has “loved” it! How coincidental. Having said all of that, I essentially went into this one blind not knowing of the “twist” though if you look at the cover art or, heaven forbid, watch the trailer – you’ll be spoiled. So I don’t feel bad about the first sentence of this paragraph.

Meet Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel), she’s just lost her mother and she’s a resident of New York City with her sights set making a name for herself in ceramics. Yes, really. She takes a home DNA test and finds out that she’s got some pretty interesting relatives. She manages to connect with her English second cousin – Oliver (Hugh Skinner). He’s visiting New York and offers her a chance to met some of her unspoken-of relatives. Evie agrees and jettisons across the pond where she’s met by Lord Walter (Thomas Doherty), the charismatic “lord of the manor” and she’s summarily pampered by the rest of the Alexander clan. She’s given a series of rules, which should be ginormous red flags to her, but chooses to ignore them. Strange things are afoot for Evie, but that’s just the beginning of her problems…

So here’s the deal – I didn’t exactly hate the movie, but I found that it really could have been better on a few levels. First, if you’re going to market yourself as a horror movie – make it, you know…scary. This one isn’t. If you’ve ever encountered an overly enthusiastic member of your family meeting you for the first time and he (or she) invites you to spend the weekend with your new family – be cautious. And if you’re a filmmaker who’s trying to scare audiences, introduce a twist (spoiler: vampires) a little earlier in the film. Vampire movies aren’t going anywhere – they’ve been around for ages and likely they’ll never die (sorry, couldn’t resist). This one, though, I just couldn’t wrap my head around. I wanted to like it, but at the end of the day it just didn’t do it for me. Likley it won’t for you either.

Video: How’s it look?

These types of films can look utterly brilliant and I’m thinking of Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 gem – Crimson Peak. That said, this isn’t that film visually. Presented in a 1.85:1 AVC HD encode, Sony’s titles are among the best out there be it Blu-ray or 4K. The more “flat” image makes use of more of the screen and we’re treated to a rather dark (tone and physically) picture. Flesh tones are, more or less, natural and we see no shortage of skin or various parts of the female anatomy (I’m not complaining). The overall landscape is a bit on the dreary side, with very muted colors which steers towards the darker side of the palette. By no means is this a bad looking film, it’s just on the dark side, save for a few key moments of color.

Audio: How’s it sound?

A rather by-the-book DTS HD Master Audio mix is included which serves the purpose of some jump scares. Hey, this is listed as a “horror” movie, after all. The majority of the film takes place inside an English manor (or whatever they call it), so we don’t get a lot of spacious aural effects, still it does manage to impress on more than one occasion. Vocals are sharp, crisp and well-defined and surrounds offer a bit of ambiance in some selected scenes. It’s a good, though not exceptional, track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Unrated Cut
  • Behind-the-scenes featurettes – Your basic “three part” series of feature totes that do their best to give us the low down on the, you guessed it, story, cast and design. To be fair, these are fairly interesting – though short. It seems like they were mainly included to fill out some bullet points on the back of the box.
    • Lifting the veil: Story
    • The wedding party: Cast
    • Till death do us part: Design
  • Deleted and extended scenes – Again, nothing mind-blowing here. Some deleted scenes are included with a couple being extended and the “it’s really not that different” version of the ending.
  • Outtakes and bloopers – Do we really need these on a drama? A comedy, OK, but this movie? I think not.

The Bottom Line

I’m somewhat dubious as to a movie that’s featured on a reality television show (Big Brother in this case) where the contestants gush about how “amazing” it was. While not totally void of some pleasure, this is a forgettable film that offers the viewer little in return. I’m sure it has its attractors, but for the rest of us – pass.

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