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THE INVITATION (2022)

What You Need To Know:

In Sony’s THE INVITATION, Evie, a young woman with no known living relatives takes a DNA test, discovers she has family in England and agrees to visit them. Her cousin, Oliver Alexander, invites her to a family wedding, and won’t take “no” for an answer! Evie reluctantly agrees, and the trip to the English countryside starts out stunningly beautiful, beyond her imaginings of a dream vacation. However, Evie finds out the Alexander family isn’t what it seems and ends up fighting to avoid a fate worse than death.

The cinematography of this gothic horror is excellent. However, its inability to decide what it is leads to a story that devolves into a lackluster feminist vampire fest. The overall worldview of THE INVITATION seems to be that of feminist humanism. Its story is based on Bram Stoker’s novel, DRACULA, but without the overt Christian, biblical themes. The heroine saves herself and does so using the dark powers of the Enemy. Also, strong sexual content and much gory mayhem mar this already disappointing film. So, MOVEGUIDE® rates THE INVITATION as excessive and unacceptable.

Content:

(HH, FeFeFe, PaPa, B, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, M):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong humanist worldview with very strong feminist elements and strong pagan behavior, though “good” does triumph over evil, but in a worldly way

Foul Language:
About 15 obscenities (including one “f” word, one Jesus profanity and three OG profanities

Violence:
Very strong and strong violence such as a woman hangs herself in opening scene by wrapping piano strings around her neck and jumping off a balcony (no blood, but impact is shown), several servants die in New Carfax Abbey screaming in terror (nothing is precisely shown), a woman sucks blood from another woman’s finger, a woman’s throat is cut, and her blood drained into a vat for people at table to drink (cutting is not shown, but almost, and the scene is quite disturbing with people laughing and eating while the gruesome murder is committed), a woman is forcibly placed and nailed into a coffin, the dead bodies of servants are kept in an outbuilding, a dead woman with a large gash on her head is laid on a table, an older woman strikes a younger woman in the head and knocks her out; a woman spits in a man’s face, a man sucks blood from a woman’s neck and leg, a woman impales another woman, a woman stabs two men in the heart with stakes, woman sucks the blood out of a man’s cut wrist, a woman cuts off a man’s hand and kicks him into a fire

Sex:
a man and woman embrace and kiss passionately; later, the same man and woman have sex in an extended scene with male upper body nudity and female nudity with exposed back and legs

Nudity:
A nude statue of the temptation of Eve by the serpent is displayed in a garden, rear female nudity when a woman bathes nude in a spa (her back, buttocks and legs are shown) and the scene comes close to full nudity as she exits the water, upper male nudity in an extended sex scene with the woman’s back and legs shown, and woman wears a very revealing dress

Alcohol Use:
Social drinking at a party

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Deception.

More Detail:

THE INVITATION is a gothic horror film from Sony Pictures.

When Evie (Evelyn), who has no known living relatives, decides to do a DNA test to find out about her ancestry, she’s surprised to find she has a cousin, Oliver Alexander, in England. She decides to meet him, and he tells her that she’s part of a family scandal. Oliver also informs Evie that his whole family would like to meet her. So, he invites her to an impending family wedding and won’t take “no” for an answer!

Evie reluctantly agrees. The trip to the English countryside starts out stunningly beautiful and beyond her wildest imaginings of a dream vacation. Later, however, it becomes clear that the Alexander family is not what it seems. Can Evie discover the secret of the family scandal and avoid a fate worse than death?

In the beginning, the writers do a good job making the female protagonist sympathetic. Her experience of losing her mom, feeling alone in the world, and finding that she has a family out there are powerful themes, which are used to make the discovery of the true nature of the Alexander family that much more distressing. The film’s cinematography is top notch. Shots of the Yorkshire countryside, New Carfax Abbey, and gothic housing, art and architecture are all exquisite.

Despite all of this, the movie lacks sustained tension and seems confused about its own identity. If it’s a tale of horror, there is often a lack of suspense and fear among a few effective jump scenes. If it’s a gothic period piece set in today’s world, it succeeds better but incompletely. If it’s a mystery, then trailers and teasers have given away the revelation. If it’s an action movie, this comes too late and is a rather silly feminist affair of women awkwardly and unconvincingly beating down men with stakes and other iconic weapons. By the end of THE INVITATION, the thing that most stands out about this new Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that’s a tough, independent woman. Following the famous, or infamous, Helen Reddy song of Modern Feminism, she actually does roar at one point.

The overall worldview of THE INVITATION seems to be that of feminist humanism. Its story is based on Stoker’s DRACULA, but without its overt Christian, biblical themes. The bride saves herself and does so using the dark powers of the Enemy. THE INVITATION is not Stoker’s epic. What the movie ultimately boils down to is a rather foolish feminist vampire fest with Evie eventually using the temporary power of her enemies to beat down and slaughter multiple male antagonists. Though good triumphs over evil in the story, it does so in a thoroughly worldly way, a way that neither Scripture nor Stoker would support.

There are several disturbing elements to THE INVITATION that bear mentioning. In an opening scene, a woman commits a gruesome suicide. At a celebration, a woman’s throat is cut and her blood drained into a vat for people at a table to drink (cutting is not actually shown, but almost shown, and the scene is quite disturbing with people laughing and eating while the gruesome murder is committed. Also, much mayhem occurs as Evie fights back against her tormentors. Foul language is somewhat reserved, but not totally, with one “f” word, one Jesus profanity and multiple scatological obscenities. Also, there’s a prolonged sex scene and multiple scenes of partial male and female nudity. MOVIEGUIDE® rates THE INVITATION excessive and unacceptable.

Note: This review is of the PG-13 theatrical version of the film, not the unrated cut released later on Blu-ray and DVD.