The lure of Dracula entices moviegoers to the cineplex once more with this latest adaptation of Bram Stoker’s tale. This time the setting has a modern approach with the idea that the notorious nosferatu has been living all this time and set up his abode in new Carfax Abbey.
The wheels that turn in order to pull us into the narrative are a little slow and cumbersome, placing our focus on orphan, Evie Jackson (Nathalie Emmanuel) who resides in New York, struggling to make ends meet in the catering business, when she receives the result of a DNA test through a new software programme. This leads to a connection with an estranged cousin and his family who live in England, and the promise of another life with wealth and romance to entice her further into their world. So Evie and her streetwise ways land her in prominent society into the path of Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty), the charismatic lord of the manor. Behind the visage though is something more sinister with old world rules at play.
Australian director, Jessica M. Thompson does well to craft this new vision of an age-old Gothic tale for her sophomore feature length outing, but it has to be said that the writing is clumsy and falls prey to cliches all too often. There are bold attempts at providing this fresh spin, but in doing so, there are choices made that leave one groaning in response. Perhaps I am showing my age, but The Invitation succumbs to modern trappings, where some of the details and depth are glossed over for the sake of image, but this comes at the destruction of the story’s essence. As such, one is more likely to fall into a sense of lull as we are guided through each of the steps towards the film’s climax.
The ending even feels a little mismatched too, as if trying to force a potential franchise out of this. The way it is handled makes no sense whatsoever. If it were not for Emmanuel’s performance, who is once again showing that she is a force to reckon with on screen and more than deserves the lead status here, this film would be positively dormant with no hope of resurrection throughout.
The Invitation is a bold attempt at reinventing an old tale for a modern audience. Its delivery however leaves you wanting, missing the mark on numerous occasions. Nathalie Emmmanuel shines in an otherwise lacklustre narrative that rests too easily on its laurels, failing to drive the direction into a riveting new place.
- Saul Muerte