The Invitation has gotten mixed reviews, some love it, some thought it was just okay and others simply didn’t understand it. Yes I went there, if you didn’t find anything to like about this film then you missed something.
Now I do not believe it's possible to create a vampire movie of any kind without some level of camp or cheesiness. The genre is oversaturated and for every good vampire movie or tv show there are 30 bad ones. That said any cheese this movie had didn’t kick in until the last 30 minutes and by then it was earned.
Fans of the vampire genre probably picked up that this was a Dracula adaptation pretty quickly after the name De Ville was dropped but the other references were very carefully crafted and allowed the audience to enjoy the film on its own and not strictly as an adaptation. That said we kept characters like Lucy not just in name but in nature, soft, sweet, not strong until she was forced to be. And Mina Harker who Evie runs to for help but who brings her back to Walt.
I loved that this movie was simultaneously a vampire film as well as a period romance and it did both well. Even the audience members that knew Walt was Dracula from the start felt for him. The writing built up their relationship so well and so realistically that it was hard not to fall for his charm. It made the big reveal for Evie feel so much more multilayered. The casting also played a major role in rooting for them as a couple. The actors' chemistry was tangible and undeniable.
The first thing I said when the film was over was “there is no way that was written by a man”, credits roll and sure enough written and directed by women. The whole movie made that clear but certain scenes really put it over the edge;
Firstly the friendship between Evie and her new york best friend, from the beginning. They talk about how the men they have to work around feel entitled to grope them, something all women have experienced. The very end when they go after the cult, her girl is by her side no matter what. Second, simply the way Evie and Walt interact with one another. Yes he's very charming BUT their affection grows in such a subtle way. They don’t jump into bed on that first night when he stops by her room, he apologizes and leaves. The tension between them builds and he really waits for her to get there.
Third Evie’s first interaction with Lucy and Victoria. Obviously Victoria is a bitch but Evie’s responses that set boundaries and push back a little bit are beautifully written. Had a man written that scene there would have been a full on cat fight.
The sex scene….everyone was covered and it was very brief yet extremely hot. No need to see anyone fully naked to make the audience understand that they were having sex.
The entirety of the end. The scene where Evie makes the decision to fight back was perfect. You could see and feel her conflict, her fear and her resolve. Evie fighting off Viktoria and then Walt was where the cheese kicked in but by that point in the film they had earned it. The audience was rooting so hard for Evie that they could have really done anything they wanted. The only scene that really counted as camp was Evie sparta kicking Walt into the fire, but 1 scene in a whole vampire film is a pretty good ratio.
I thought the cinematography was utterly gorgeous. Some of the more horror movie oriented shots were stunning. The scene where Emily decides to kill herself was brilliantly framed, the lighting was classic horror movie and it truly felt like an older horror film. It was beautiful. The church scene when Walt and Evie are getting married was gorgeous, with the candles and cult behind them it was a very captivating shot.
I truly loved this film, and I can’t wait to explode the film bros' brains when I say I think it's one of my favorite films that came out this year. It's a really solid movie and I would honestly give it a 9.5/10.