The Invitation (2022)

Where i Watched it: Netflix

English Audio Description?: Yes

It needs to be said that Nathalie Emanuel needs to be a casting priority for Hollywood. Like, she needs the same level of attention Margot Robbie gets. There’s no reason she can’t be an A-lister. She should not have to do films like this to hope her star power rises. Everyone loves her, she proved her dramatic weight on Game of Thrones, and is waiting for her big non-Fast and Furious moment. This isn’t it.

This is one of those films where I actually don’t blame the cast. At all. I think everyone in here was great, and did exactly what was expected of them. The reason this film falls a little flat (it isn’t terrible), is because the director doesn’t understand her film, or the screenplay needed a rewrite it never got, or both.

There’s an opening sequence here that reveals the hand of the film, and instantly kills all possibility of momentum. If you skipped the first scene, you’d be introduced to a lovely young lady (Emanuel) who is seeking a better understanding of her genealogy, and uses a 23 and me type thing to connect, since her mother passed, and she has no family. She only has a best friend, who gives great advice, and was underutilized.

Soon, she’s connected to a cousin, who is white, and finds out that she’s got this big wealthy aristocratic British family, and they’re having a wedding. She meets the cousin, who invites her, and she’s off on a trip of a lifetime. She’s charmed by the experience, and if the director could have just kept her fucking shit together, you wouldn’t even know what genre this film was in until you absolutely needed to.

But for some reason, the opening scene makes it pretty clear this is a monster movie, and scenes where various staff members disappear into darkness by some force in the first third reinforce that. So instead of letting the film get increasingly unnerving, or taking a page out of Jordan peele’s handbook, the coolest thing about this film is smacked in our face. But, our lead still has no clue, so the only mystery is when she’ll find out.

And that’s a dumb fucking mystery.

I want to see Jordan Peele remake this movie, because I bet that version is great. The Invitation owes quite a bit of it’s core story to Get out anyway, and it’s the most obvious comparison. but, the director of The invitation has no idea what she has in her hands, and just gives up. She makes it as uninteresting as possible, which is so frustrating because I can actually see the A+ version of this film. It’s there. it just needs to be recut and re-edited. Perhaps if this was A24 they would have focused more on the substance, and the story would have prevailed. Instead, Nathalie Emanuel walks around her own film like any old stupid horror movie cliche, where you keep wanting her to get out of there, but she has no idea what’s going on.

If they had held the reveal until that dinner sequence, oh my God. This film would have been great. Instead, it’s just very very average, with a terrific female lead. if I gave an award to Best Female Lead in A Shitty Film, Nathalie would win.

The reason this film has this grade is mostly because Nathalie manages to make a diamond out of this anyway, giving a performance she didn’t need to give, and showing Hollywood why they need to give her an actual film next time with a director that knows what they are doing.

The audio description here is pretty solid, and it describes the monsters, and the scarier scenes, or gorier scenes, are well done. Plus, since there is some level of opulence here, the narration catches a bit of that too, in terms of costuming and set. i could have used a bit more, but i got enough considering this film is underwhelming.

If you plan on seeing this film, i did already mention that it is a monster film of sorts. I would recommend starting a few minutes in, and skipping the first scene. I think that will at least make the film a little better. The inclusion of the opening is baffling. If she thought she was pulling off what get Out did, she didn’t. This one reveals it’s hand, jordan peele’s Get out had Lakeith Stanfield attacked by a guy in knights armor. What were we supposed to figure out from that?

Nathalie Emanuel deserves better.

Final Grade: C

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