The Invitation (2022 film)

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Albert Flores

The Invitation is a 2022 American horror thriller film directed by Jessica M. Thompson and written by Blair Butler. The film stars Nathalie Emmanuel and Thomas Doherty. Inspired by the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, the film follows a young woman who, following her mother's death, meets long-lost family members for the first time, only to discover the dark secrets they carry with them.

Originally titled The Bride, the film was produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert's Ghost House Pictures, with Butler writing the script. However, Raimi and Tapert exited due to scheduling conflicts. +more By 2020, the film's director, producer and new title were announced. Casting occurred from May to October 2021, with filming beginning that September in Budapest.

The Invitation was released theatrically in the United States on August 26, 2022, by Sony Pictures Releasing. It received generally negative reviews from critics, praising Emmanuel’s acting but criticizing the story, screenplay, and scares. +more The film was a box office success grossing $33 million worldwide on a $10 million budget.

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Plot

In New York City, struggling artist Evelyn "Evie" Jackson makes a living freelancing for a catering business with her best friend Grace. Evie takes a DNA test, discovering she has a distant cousin in England named Oliver Alexander. +more She meets Oliver, who tells her the scandal of her great-grandmother, Emmaline, who had a secret child with a Black footman. He invites her to an upcoming family wedding in England. Evie arrives in Whitby at the New Carfax Abbey, where she meets the lord of the manor, Walter De Ville, and Mrs. Swift, a longtime maid of the estate. She also meets the rest of the Alexander family and the maids of honor, friendly Lucy and condescending Viktoria.

Evie gradually begins to notice unsettling occurrences during her stay. She sees an apparition of Emmaline, who was shown in a flashback, hanging herself from the staircase. +more Maids start disappearing as they are attacked by a shadowy figure. Evie finds herself romanced by Walter before discovering he had been researching her before her arrival. She confronts him and threatens to leave, but the two reconcile and have sex.

The family hosts a rehearsal dinner, where Evie expects to finally meet the bride and groom. Instead, Walter announces that he and Evie are to be wed. +more The butler, Mr. Field, slits a maid's throat and pours her blood into a bowl. Walter, Lucy, and Viktoria are all revealed to be vampires who then drink the maid's blood. Evie's ancestors, the Alexanders, are one of the three families who, for centuries, have each offered one of their women to become Walter's wife in exchange for protection and wealth. Emmaline was originally intended to be Walter's third bride, but she killed herself due to her guilt of killing humans, and due to the loss of her love, Evie's great-grandfather, and infant son. The Alexander family had trouble finding a female member since until they found Evie. Viktoria locks a frantic Evie inside a coffin, but she is freed by Mrs. Swift, who is killed by Mr. Field. Evie makes it into town and asks an elderly couple for help but is knocked unconscious, as they work for Walter.

Evie wakes up to find herself with one of the maids, Diya, and Walter. Walter reveals himself to be Dracula as he mentions he was once known as the "Son of the Dragon". +more Evie then watches Walter bite into Diya's leg and falls unconscious. Upon waking up, Evie is now in a wedding dress, walking down the aisle to wed Walter. As they finish exchanging vows, she bites Walter's arm, consuming his blood, and instantly transforms into a vampire. She sets the wedding chapel on fire, stabs Walter in the heart, and flees with Diya. An enraged Viktoria ambushes Evie, but Lucy intervenes. The two brides fight before Lucy impales both Viktoria and herself into a spear, turning them both into ashes.

Evie is attacked by Mr. Field, who insults her biracial heritage before she kills him. +more She is then grabbed by an aged Walter. She breaks free by severing his wrist with a cheese wire and kicks him into the flames. As he dies, she loses her powers due to his death, and reverts back to human form. Two weeks later, Evie and Grace track down Oliver in London, intending to attack him for selling Evie out for money.

Cast

Nathalie Emmanuel as Evelyn "Evie" Jackson / Evelyn "Evie" Alexander * Thomas Doherty as Walter De Ville * Sean Pertwee as Mr. Field * Hugh Skinner as Oliver Alexander * Carol Ann Crawford as Mrs. +more Swift * Alana Boden as Lucy * Stephanie Corneliussen as Viktoria * Courtney Taylor as Grace * Virág Bárány as Emmaline.

Production

In April 2019, Screen Gems acquired an untitled pitch from Blair Butler, who was also attached to write the screenplay. Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert were on board to produce the film for their production company Ghost House Pictures; however, they eventually exited the project. +more In June 2020, it was revealed that the film would be titled The Bride and that Jessica M. Thompson was set to direct, with Emile Gladstone producing without Raimi and Tapert. The original script was written by Butler, who drew inspiration from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, with revisions by Thompson. In June 2022, the film's new title was announced as The Invitation.

Nathalie Emmanuel and Garrett Hedlund were cast in lead roles in May 2021. That August, Alana Boden and Stephanie Corneliussen were added to the main cast. +more In October, Thomas Doherty, Hugh Skinner, Sean Pertwee, and Courtney Taylor joined the cast, with Doherty replacing Hedlund.

Principal photography began in September 2021 in Budapest, Hungary.

Release

The film was released theatrically in the United States on August 26, 2022, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film was released digitally on September 16, 2022 and on Blu-ray and DVD October 25, 2022.

Box office

, The Invitation has grossed $25.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $8.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $33.7 million.

In the United States and Canada, The Invitation was released alongside Three Thousand Years of Longing and Breaking. The film made $2. +more6 million on its first day (including $775,000 from Thursday night previews) and grossed $6. 8 million from 3,114 theaters during its opening weekend. It was the lowest-grossing film to top the box office since Spiral ($4. 5 million) in May 2021. In its sophomore weekend the film made $4. 7 million (and a total of $5. 7 million over the four-day Labor Day frame), dropping 30. 7% and finishing fifth.

Critical response

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.

Natalia Winkelman of The New York Times wrote: "For a fright-fest as broad as this one, there's an awful lot of banal dialogue, and the scare patterns are repetitive enough that even the easiest startlers (I count myself among them) grow immune early on. " Joe Leydon of Variety wrote in his review: "Despite some ambitious efforts to revitalize hoary horror movie tropes with allegorical commentary on race, class and male privilege, [the film] is too wearyingly hackneyed for too much of its running time. +more".

Notes

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