HOLY CARPS! How are we practically at the end of the month already? I’ve only got three days left to watch all the movies that I wanted to fit into this month! And the thing about this that’s making it hard to pull off is that this is the last weekend before a major book deadline on Monday! And the worst part about that? A year ago, when I was signing contracts and whatnot…October 31 is the date that I CHOSE for this deadline. WHY did I do that?? Stupid, short-sighted past-me!

Ah, well. This just means that instead of packing the weekend full of back-to-back watches, I just need to be more discerning. I think I have a few ideas! Which includes today’s film: The Invitation.

Evie is a struggling artist in New York, working part-time catering jobs while going to school for her MFA. She grabs a gift back from a recent event she worked, contents which include a bottle of wine and a DNA test. You know, typical swag bag stuff.  Freshly grieving the death of her mother a few months past and having no immediate family of her own, Evie is intrigued and submits a sample with the hopes of finding some kin, somewhere. And apparently, family exists! A posh, British, very, very white Oliver Alexander, who charms her over a lunch meeting and convinces her to fly to England as an all-expenses-paid guest for an extravagant family wedding.

What ensues has already been revealed by the trailers for the film, but I think even without the spoilery head’s-up, we could have figured out where this was headed, or at least the broad strokes of it. It’s all laid out right there on the poster art, isn’t it? One of the major reasons that horror movies are so much fun is the element of mystery and intrigue, and The Invitation just didn’t even bother with any of that. And while I loved the idea for this story and all of the gothic tropes of the ancestral family secrets, the atmospheric mansion, the romance with the brooding lord of the manor– somehow the particulars were just…predictable and plodding.

The upsides? The lavish costumes, the gorgeous English manor house, that sumptuous scene with the table of bounty and the guests in their masquerade finery. And it would be remiss of me not to mention Evie’s best friend, who had some of the best lines in the film.

Was it awful? No way! I’d almost call it a bit of comfort viewing, it had all of the pieces of a story that I would generally gravitate toward, and even though it wasn’t spectacular, I don’t regret the time I spent with the film. So if you’ve got a rainy evening ahead of you filled with tea and knitting (or your cozy hobby of choice) I actually think The Invitation is perfect for such an occasion.

And…a totally unrelated bonus!

Many moons ago I interviewed the inimitable Jill Tracy with regard to her long-in-the-works unprecedented project and sonic excavation, The Secret Music of Lily Dale, a rare peek into the famed little New York town that talks to the dead. Well! After much anticipation, The Secret Music of Lily Dale will materialize befittingly on All Souls Day/Day of the Dead on November 2. If you backed the project, you probably know all of this already and have received your items, but if not, you can read more about this extraordinary effort over on Jill’s blog.


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