Directed by Jessica M. Thompson, The Invitation tells the story of an African-American woman (Nathalie Emmanuel) who discovers that she has long-lost family in the UK. After meeting with a distant cousin (Hugh Skinner), she accepts an invitation to a wedding overseas and discovers a mysterious property owner (Thomas Doherty) may have some nefarious intentions.
With some arch, overly telegraphed moments and a few wonky line readings, The Invitation straddles the line between campy, B-movie and a horror film meant to be taken seriously – at least as seriously as one can take PG-13 horror. And now that the film has been thoroughly spoiled by online commentary, a few professional reviews, and the film’s latest marketing, it’s easy to see how movie-goers could find the film predictable, perhaps leading to its abysmal 23% critical score and tepid 59% audience score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
So if you’re going to The Invitation expecting surprises and Oscar-caliber acting, you’re going to be disappointed, but taking the film for what it’s trying to accomplish, there is a lot to like. The film ably moves through its plot with a few compelling scenes and scares, and once the story fully unfolds, the third act offers a turn on some horror film tropes. Particularly, the film’s metaphor is playing with the ideas of Black female rebellion against old monied interests. Should one distance oneself from the system or become part of it to dismantle it from within?
Ultimately, I liked what I could about The Invitation, and I think horror fans have a wide assortment of tastes, which could include this latest offering.