Read The Fine Print
Stars: Nathalie Emmanuel, Courtney Taylor, Thomas Doherty, Hugh Skinner, Stephanie Corneliussen, Alana Boden, and Sean Pertwee
Director: Jessica M Thompson
Scriptwriter: Blair Butler
Composer: Dara Taylor
Cinematography: Autumn Eakin
Screen Gems/Sony Pictures
Rating: PG 13 with violence and themed material
Running Length: 103 Minutes
It is the beginning of autumn, 2022, and time for horror films to come to theaters for early Halloween fun. However, for a film critic, there are the usual themes, which makes reviewing a film rather dull, at times. There are only so many car stalls on lonely road – pick up hitchhiker – visit cemetery at midnight – stay overnight at deserted farmhouse with no electricity – local cemetery also good for zombies – and, beware of extremely large flying bats when the sun goes down. That just about covers it. However, once in awhile there comes along a film that will pique one’s interest. Such is the case with “The Invitation,” and how the writer and director get you there is interesting. Invitation to what?
“The Invitation” stars Nathalie Emmanuel as Evie, and you will remember her from PBS’s “Poldark.” Another face to remember is Sean Pertwee (son of Jon Pertwee who was a “Doctor Who”) and Sean is familiar from television’s “Gotham” series. Now, we begin with a girl who really is an artist (Evie) but works as a waitress. On a whim, Evie gets a genealogy DNA test and sends it. Before you can snap your fingers, she gets an answer from a relative in Great Britain, Oliver (Hugh Skinner) who eventually, after telling her about “their” family, invites her to visit the estate. Friend Grace (Courtney Taylor) says, “no,” but Evie goes anyway and begins to meet the family. The family estate is lush and family members include the Master of the House, Walter (Thomas Doherty from “Gossip Girl”) There is to be a wedding there soon, and Evie is caught up in the activities. Then – she finds out that she is the one being married to Walter and two other girls are maids of honor, though they squabble a bit. Old – very old – exceedingly old – family tradition with wings. Something evil is definitely afoot at this estate and Evie is in serious trouble.
The beginning of the film is unique and before you meet Evie, you know there are serious times ahead. The movie goes at a leisurely pace for about an hour, and then the activities begin, and by this, I mean the truths are in the open and that’s the place you don’t want to be – undercover is better. Evie has to think fast on her feet and the acting in the film is fairly good, but especially Courtney Taylor as the friend, Grace. This script doesn’t follow the usual horror film of male dominance, but gives women the power of action, intelligence and physical strength. Ok, so Evie did go to Great Britain without a moment’s thought, it is while there, she pulls herself together. The last half of the movie has action with a twist.
There are two scenes that reflect what we would call “the usual” horror film. There is jogging alone outside when it is foggy and misty, and walking around a strange, darkened old house at night. Well, I guess to authenticate the film, there had to be the above-mentioned moments. I did think “The Invitation” is above average and it was a pleasure to see Sean Pertwee on the screen again. The banter between Evie and Grace is good and so is the banter between the maids of honor, Viktoria (Stephanie Corneluissen from “Legion”) and Lucy (Alana Boden from “Flowers in The Attic.”) For horror film fans, this is the beginning of your season.
Copyright 2022 Marie Asner