Everybody needs somebody to love. I mean, c’mon, even Dracula had a girlfriend. The Count’s bloodsucking “brides” provide the inspiration for a contemporary horror film called “The Invitation,” now playing in theatres. It’s the story of vampires and a wedding invite the main character Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) should have declined.
When we first meet Evie, she is a struggling New York City artist and cater waiter mourning the loss of her mother. “It was always just my mom and me,” she says. “To have a family, that’s what I really want.” To that end she does a DNA test to see if she can shake any long-lost relatives out of the family tree. To her surprise she discovers Oliver (Hugh Skinner), an English cousin, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s going to be in New York the following week.
Over dinner she tells him that her mother always wanted to take her to England to learn about their family history.
“There’s a wedding coming up. You should come. Everyone is dying to meet you,” he says in a funny bit of foreshadowing.
Turns out the extended family lives in a house that makes Downton Abbey look like a dump. Presided over by the aristocratic “Rockefeller rich” Walter (Thomas Doherty), it is the picture of lavish English countryside life. “Welcome to the new Carfax Abbey,” says cousin Oliver.
Underneath the perfectly manicured lawns, and the starched suits of the maids and footmen, however, are deadly secrets. As the wedding day approaches, Evie’s questions about the whereabouts of the bride and groom are brushed off with vague responses. “The groom and the bride will make their grand entrance tomorrow,” she is told.
On the day, Evie learns too late that she isn’t just a guest at the wedding.
“To Evie,” says Walter proposing a toast on the wedding night, “my new bride.”
Set amid the Abbey’s gothic architecture, what begins as a fish out of water story quickly turns sinister as the things that go bump in the night start bumping but don’t expect much more than a few carefully crafted jump scares. Director Jessica M. Thompson keeps the horror strictly for folks who thought “Twilight” was the best vampire movie ever.
That’s not to say there isn’t a well-staged scene or two in “The Invitation,” but when the best scene in a vampire romance is a sequence where the lead gets a clumsy manicure, it suggests deficits in the horror department.
Perhaps it’s because the trailer for “The Invitation” gives away very major plot point, or perhaps it’s because there are no real surprises in the story, but, either way, this is one bloodless vampire tale.