Jessica M. Thompson’s The Invitation sure isn’t pro DNA test considering what our heroine goes through after she takes one. The DNA of the film can be found in countless bloodsucker tales. It fails its own test of living up to most of them.
NYC resident Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) is just a poor girl with a potter’s wheel, deceased parents, and past due notices in the mail. Her catering job presents an opportunity when she works a soiree for a company called Find Yourself and the swag bag affords her a free sampling of the product. The ancestry revelation service takes her across the pond to England where she has wealthy relatives. It turns out her great grandmother had an affair with a black worker at her posh estate and Evie stems from that bloodline.
Going from zero family to this brood is at first thrilling and her cousin Oliver (Hugh Skinner) seems nice enough. The possibilities elevate when she’s invited to a mysterious wedding at the grounds of the dreamy Walt de Ville (Thomas Doherty). A budding romance ensues.
The gothic horror overtones indicate there’s twists ahead… and also maids keep getting attacked in shadowy corners of the cruel de Ville manor. Part of the problem is it takes an hour for these “secrets” to come out. One view of the trailer basically tells us everything and that is 100 minutes less time wasted.
The Invitation‘s PG-13 scares are practically non-existent. Blair Butler’s screenplay haphazardly tries to inject commentary about sexism, racism, and classism. The occasional saving graces are Emmanuel and Doherty. They have another “ism” – charisma but their chemistry veers off track when Evie’s real reason for the trip is told. The script’s most significant issue is that we never believe for a second that the plan hatched by these aristocrats could’ve worked. I suppose saying more would be spoiler heavy as long as you avoided a commercial for this. The two leads keep it from completely sucking but you can safely keep away.
** (out of four)