The following are spoilers for The Invitation (2022). It is fair to say the film received little attention upon its release. Although the reviews have been mixed, most emphasis has been given to the film's historical significance. The film's protagonist, Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel), uses her oppressive powers to overthrow her oppressors.
The Invitation Is A Modern Update of Dracula
After the death of her mother, Evie receives a DNA testing kit and discovers that she has extended family in England. As the wedding approaches, Evie is immediately charmed by Walt, who intends to marry Evie and become one of his undead brides.
It is likely that for anyone who knows anything about Bram Stokers Dracula, this is a reimagined Dracula story, in which the notorious vampire courtes and marries a new bride. If not immediately clear, it will become so when Evie is introduced to two bridesmaids, Lucy (Alana Boden) and Viktoria (Stephanie Corneliussen serving Mean Girls-Elvira). It is true that the film feels familiar and predictable in places,
Evie vs. Walt (And Everything He Represents)
Through the juxtaposition of Evie and Walt, the film sets up its depiction of overcoming oppression. His covenant is aware of his vampirism and is complicit in his murderous kidnapping of women. In return, Walt provides them with wealth and protection.
Evie As An Outsider
Evie is seen as an outsider on several levels. First, Walt's cohort is made up of working-class individuals, and she attempts to assist one of Walts' new maids clean broken kitchenware. Mr. Field (Sean Pertwee), the most sympathetic figure in Walts' exploits, disparages the maid and dismisses Evie for helping her. Each of the extravagances she discovers at Walts estate is luxuries she will never discover in her lifetime.
Evie is marked differently by her identity as a woman. Walts power is primarily predicated on the exploitation of women. The previous bride, Emmaline (Virag Barany), committed suicide.
Evie, being a woman of color, differs from Walt and his supporters, who are almost all white. Grace (Courtney Taylor) notices a picture of Oliver for the first time, she immediately replies on his whiteness. This is again suggested that Evie finds an empathy connection with the workers through the identification of differences. Walt also oppresses those who are racially different.
Breaking the Cycle
Evie absorbs Walt's powers (strength, fangs, and claws) by drinking his blood, then uses his own abilities against him to demolish him and destroy the mansion. By using his powers to demolish Walt's covenant, she both literally and symbolically exploits his system of oppression founded on wealth, patriarchy, and whiteness. Rather, Evie and Courtney pursue the living members of Walts circle in a coda.
The Invitation offers a vision of an oppressed individual taking power from their oppressors, resurrecting the system that supports them, and utilizing new means of achieving justice. For marginalized viewers, and likely especially for those who feel represented by Evies' axes of identity, The Invitation is not to be dismissed because of its lukewarm reception, but to be lauded for allowing viewers to identify with a heroine as she dismantles an oppressive regime.