REVIEW: Toss this ‘Invitation,’ the event isn’t worth going

“The Invitation” is a film with a rather entertaining finale. It’s just a shame an audience has to sit through a whole lot of nothing to get there.

Nathalie Emmanuel stars as Evie in this supposed horror picture. The film picks up with the aspiring artist and catering server learning more about her ancestry, and, as it turns out, she is related to a wealthy family in England and decides to meet-up with her newly discovered cousin, Oliver (Hugh Skinner).

Oliver extends an invitation to Evie to meet more of her relatives at a wedding event being held at an estate belonging to Walter (Thomas Doherty), a longtime family friend. While a bit nervous about all the new developments, Evie decides to travel to England for the wedding. However, just as she starts to settle in, Evie begins noticing some creepy things.

Most genre movies have something called an “inciting incident.” A moment where the plot thickens and the protagonist is set off on their adventure. Most inciting incidents take place early on in the movie, but with “The Invitation,” it doesn’t happen until there’s maybe 20 minutes left.

The writing of the film suggests that there’s something sinister about Evie’s extended family and Walter, yet the reveal comes way too late. Until things actually gets interesting, an audience has to sit through some melodrama that’s more suitable for a Lifetime TV movie than a major motion picture.

Had the movie thrown the audience more of a bone earlier, it could have gotten away with holding back its trump card and big finale until the end. However, there’s nothing to keep a viewer’s interest.

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Another film where a character is brought to a home where the situation becomes more ominous was Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” That movie also held its reveal, but in the mean time it was able to keep a viewer hooked thanks to its wit, humor and uncomfortable situations.

The 2019 movie “Ready or Not,” meanwhile, featured a situation where the sinister truth is revealed early on and leads to a thrilling, fun, journey of survival for the protagonist.

That’s what the final 20-or-so minutes of “The Invitation” basically is and it was actually a bit of fun. Had that been most of the movie, this could have been a fun flick.

Instead the audience is treated to some cheap PG-13 scares, such as a shadow moving behind a character and shocking them, as well as the aforementioned toothless drama. The film is really a waste of Nathalie Emmanuel’s efforts, because she really was giving a committed performance.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the cast, though, who ham it up so much that none of them come across as real people. It’s another issue in a very empty film. The film just doesn’t offer a viewer anything. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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