It’s decidedly not spooky season right now, but that isn’t stopping a horror movie from climbing the Netflix top 10. The Invitation landed on the big red streaming service less than two weeks ago (December 24) and is already making waves.
The Invitation is currently ranked as the No. 7 movie on Netflix, and while that places it behind the likes of Glass Onion, White Noise and Matilda the Musical, it’s ahead of popular flicks such as Bullet Train and Sing 2. That’s very respectable ranking for a movie that wasn’t particularly well-received by critics.
But it’s less than impressive critical reception may not be the dealbreaker that it sounds like. The scary flick actually has a fair bit going for it. For starters, it stars Nathalie Emmanuel (most well known for her role as Missandei on Game of Thrones), and it’s (loosely) inspired by a classic horror novel that you've perhaps heard of, Dracula by Bram Stoker. The Invitation hit theaters in August 2022, but it actually feels more at home on one of the best streaming services.
Naturally, you’re probably asking yourself, should I watch or skip The Invitation on Netflix? And I’m here to help answer the question. Fortunately, I caught this movie myself last summer when it was released in cinemas, so I’m able to explain everything you need to know about The Invitation.
What is The Invitation about?
The Invitations sees Nathalie Emmanuel play Evelyn “Evie” Jackson a struggling artist in New York City, who discovers she is distantly related to a wealthy British family after taking an online DNA test.
After meeting with her one of her new cousins, she is invited to an upcoming family wedding at the swanky New Carfax Abbey in the quaint seaside town of Whitby. Once she arrives she’s instantly charmed by the lord of the manor, Walter De Ville (Thomas Doherty), and a budding romance begins to blossom between the pair.
However, not everything is as it seems. And soon strange occurrences convince Evie that her new found family is harboring dark secrets. And even more concerning is that she keeps seeing apparitions of a woman who was previously staying in the Abbey before committing suicide.
Before long what started as the trip of a lifetime to a lavish wedding in the picturesque English countryside, becomes a living nightmare as the twisted family secrets are revealed, and Evie discovers the unsettling true intentions of her hosts.
The Invitation review: Here’s what critics said
The Invitation was far from a critical darling back when it hit theatres. In fact, the gothic horror movie currently scores a pretty poor 28% on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab) — that places it firmly within the rotten category.
Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab) criticized the movie for relying “way too heavily on cheap jump scares” but did note there’s “atmosphere within the film’s initial mystery." IndieWire (opens in new tab)’s Jude Dry was similarly unimpressed and was particularly disappointed with the movie’s confused tone. “Part inert bodice-ripper, part vampire Cinderella story, [The Invitation’s] mixed themes could have benefitted from a purer bloodline,” said Dry.
Natalia Winkelman of New York Times (opens in new tab) was rather scathing, saying “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.” And Variety (opens in new tab)’s Joe Leydon labeled the movie “ambitious” but “too wearyingly hackneyed for too much of its running time.”
However, there have been a few slightly more positive write-ups. Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting (opens in new tab) was more positive than most critics. They said, “it’s a well-crafted but predictable gothic romance light on scares that could sufficiently introduce the genre to unfamiliar audiences.”
It’s also important to note that The Invitation has enjoyed a significantly better reception from regular viewers, which is arguably the most important metric to judge a movie on. The Invitation holds a respected 60% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and at the global box office it made three times its trim $10 million budget, meaning it was a financial success.
Should you stream The Invitation on Netfix?
Are you able to enjoy a pretty silly horror movie that is crammed full of cheesy dialogue and quick-fire jump scares? If you answered yes, then you’ll probably have fun watching The Invitation. If you take your horror movies seriously, then perhaps you’d be better off streaming something like 2014’s It Follows (which is also on Netflix).
The Invitation is another example of critics and audiences disagreeing, which seems to be more and more common these days. So definitely don’t write it off just because of its underwhelming Rotten Tomatoes score. However, as somebody who has seen the film already, I can attest to the fact it’s no masterpiece. It’s a throwback horror flick that offers a few cheap thrills, but you’re unlikely to remember all that much about it even just a few hours after the credits roll.