The ability to learn more about your family history via mail-in DNA tests has resulted in exciting and life-changing discoveries for some. However, what if your results, instead, turned out to be disturbing and life-threatening? That is the initial set-up for THE INVITATION — a new horror film from Sony and Screen Gems.
The latest feature-length effort from co-writer and director Jessica M. Thompson follows a young woman whose search to learn more about herself just happens to lead her right into a trap of sinister proportions. Just see for yourself by checking out the official trailer for THE INVITATION below.
That chilling preview certainly gives us a lot to unpack by the time THE INVITATION opens in AMC Theatres Friday, August 26. So, let’s discuss all the most pressing thoughts and enduring feelings we experienced while watching it.
A Dark Twist On The Ultimate Fairy Tale Fantasy
Through her mail-in DNA test, our main character, Evie, meets her long-lost British cousin, Oliver, who invites her to meet more of her previously unknown kin at a destination wedding at a luxurious Victorian estate in England. She is then introduced to a family friend named Walter, who takes an immediate interest in Evie and courts her with a bit of ballroom dancing.
The set-up of THE INVITATION’s trailer seems straight out of a story book, with the female lead discovering her ties to a family of European aristocrats at the kind of breathtaking, lavish mansion that a Disney Princess might call home. However, the ominous music throughout, Evie’s repeated questioning of who the bride and groom are and the odd behavior of the guests and in-house staff are more than enough to give us a hunch that this is not leading to a happily ever after.
As the tension is building and clues begin to pile up — a big one being the creepy masks the wedding guests wear during an apparent wedding rehearsal dinner — the trailer reaches a striking climax as it confirms that sinister plans are at play here. Walter announces that he is the groom and Evie has been unwillingly chosen to be his bride. However, that only seems to be part of what’s happening here…
Are These People Vampires?
One of the most unsettling wedding guests whom Evie encounters is Viktoria, who is seen at one point of THE INVITATION’s trailer sucking the blood from Evie’s finger after a manicure gone wrong. Later, during Walter’s horrific reveal, a woman’s throat is slit and her blood is poured into wine glasses. We also see a rapid montage of clips that show Walter bearing sharp fangs and other clues leading us to wonder the following question — is this a vampire story?
While the trailer does reveal the crucial plot point of Evie’s reluctant role in this wedding, it does not specify the reason she has been chosen to be Walter’s bride. The hints above could possibly suggest that Walter is the leader of this cult of bloodsuckers who have coaxed Evie into marrying their “Count” as part of some ritual. Or, because we do see some of these characters in sunlight, perhaps they are actually humans who go to the extreme to act like vampires — a potentially scarier scenario if it is true.
For now, we can only theorize while we wait for THE INVITATION to open in theatres.
Nathalie Emmanuel Looks Like A Fierce Horror Hero
The end of THE INVITATION’s trailer hints at a forceful, scrappy and bloody resistance against this group of people, courtesy of Evie. Based on the trailer — particularly in those thrilling final moments — the character looks like the start of a smooth transition from action hero to scream queen for star Nathalie Emmanuel, a British actress best known as Missandei on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and her breakout film role of Ramsey in the FAST AND FURIOUS movies.
However, Thomas Doherty is also a major standout of THE INVITATION cast giving his all as a seductive Dracula-type — if not playing Dracula himself — in the trailer. The Scottish actor is best known as Captain Hook’s son in Disney Channel’s DESCENDANTS movies and, potentially fittingly, he made his acting debut on NBC’s “Dracula” series in 2013.
We also give major kudos to Danish actress Stephanie Corneliussen — of USA’s “Mr. Robot” and FX’s “Legion” fame — who’s featured in brief, but positively memorable and spine-chilling moments in the trailer. Also Hugh Skinner from 2012’s LES MISERABLÉS and Amazon Prime’s “Fleabag” plays Cousin Oliver with the perfect amount of deceptive charm.
From the producer of THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA, THE INVITATION looks to be a bloody good time for horror fans. We'll see soon enough when the gothic thriller comes to AMC Theatres this August.