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Don’t wait for ‘The Invitation’

Famous Australian screenwriter Ray Mooney once told one of his screenwriting classes that when it comes to writing a screenplay, the first 10 minutes must totally capture the viewer while the end of the film has to leave the audience fulfilled by wanting more. Brand-new horror/thriller ‘The Invitation’ is a classic example of how not adhering to one of those rules can totally drag down a film.

By David Griffiths

Saturday 3 September 2022, 11:00AM

Nathalie Emmanuel in ’The-Invitation’ (2022). Image: IMDb

Nathalie Emmanuel in ’The-Invitation’ (2022). Image: IMDb

Directed by Jessica M. Thompson (The End), The Invitation begins with Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel – Game Of Thrones) living in New York City. Evie is still grieving the loss of her mother and begrudgingly works as a waitress – her real passion is to become a potter.

Her life is turned upside down when upon completing an online DNA test she is contacted by the sophisticated Oliver (Hugh Skinner – Les Miserables), whom she learns from is her cousin and that she is related to one of the wealthiest families in England.

He invites her to what he says will be ‘the wedding of the year’ in England and pays for her airfares. On arrival in the UK, Evie meets Walter (Thomas Doherty – High Fidelity), the owner of the luxurious mansion she is staying at.

However, while Evie and Walter begin to explore what may be between them it is also obvious that something is viciously attacking the waiting staff at the mansion and that the household is hiding a dark secret.

This is one film where it is recommended that you should not watch the trailer before watching the film. The way this film works best is if you have no idea what the ‘horror’ that the household is hiding is. Nobody can say that The Invitation is a bad film because for the most part it holds the audience’s attention with suspense and intrigue.

Most audience members will find themselves drawn into the world that Evie finds herself in and for most of the film they will be trying to work out what horror lurks in the bowels of the mansion. The reveal might be a bit of a shock for some, not if you’ve watched the trailer though, as it gives it away, and it is that moment that makes this a watchable film.

Sadly though it is after that reveal that the film seems to fall away. With so much suspense building the film before that the film’s weak storyline is exposed for all to see once that intrigue is taken away. For the last quarter of the film it feels like Jessica M. Thompson and her screenwriter, Blair Butler (Hell Fest), lose control of the film. That last quarter just feels like Hollywood cliché after Hollywood cliché and while you do still find yourself on edge as to what will happen to Evie, it was nowhere near as intense as it was for the first three-quarters of the film.

What the film does do well is deliver a great message about the treatment of wait staff and how most of society still sees those that wait for them as a lesser class of person but at the same time what it does badly is a weak fumbling effort to tie the film’s plot into a classic piece of literature. That attempt is laughable and does nothing to improve the film at all.

Where The Invitation does come into its own though is with the performances of its leads. Nathalie Emmanuel shows throughout the film that she is an actress that is now more than capable of holding down the leading role in a film, while Thomas Doherty announces himself to the feature film world as an actor who can play both the romantic lead and the villain remarkably well. Off the back of The Invitation, it is easy to see that both are certainly stars on the rise.

The Invitation is certainly not the worst film of the film, but certainly be prepared for a film that has a less-than-satisfying finale.

The Invitation is currently screening in Phuket and is rated ‘13’

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at 

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