There has been an explosion in consumer DNA testing over the last decade, with companies such as Ancestry and 23andMe selling customers at-home DNA test kits so they can discover their ethnicity admixtures or connect with relatives they never knew they had. For every story about a cold case murder being solved through genetic genealogy or an adoptee reuniting with their loved ones, there are also stories of family secrets being uncovered or someone discovering half-siblings they never knew they had.
Given the industry’s popularity, it was only a matter of time before a movie got around to using it as a backdrop, with the horror genre particularly suited to exploring the many tantalizing and terrifying possibilities of finding your roots. Now, The Invitation is here to showcase the horror of discovering the family you never knew you had.
As you can see in IGN’s exclusive online trailer – which can be viewed in either the player above or via the embed below – The Invitation follows a young woman named Evie (played by Game of Thrones and Fast and Furious alum Nathalie Emmanuel), an adult orphan who takes a consumer DNA test and learns she has extended family in Britain. But soon after meeting her newfound and extravagantly wealthy relatives, Evie discovers their shocking, bloody history – and the family’s sinister intentions for her.
“(Evie) doesn’t really feel like she has anyone. And so when this kind of random, long-lost cousin happens upon her life after taking a DNA test for fun, just to be silly or just for the fun of it, it really kind of draws her in because she’s someone who is really craving family and a support network again, ”Emmanuel told IGN in a Zoom interview last week. “She gets kind of pulled into this family with really high expectations, in a way. And yeah, like you say, be careful what you wish for because they aren’t exactly what she thought they were and they would be. ”
Emmanuel observed that Evie, in the end, must “fight for her life” and “find the darkest parts of herself to survive.” Emmanuel added that she could relate to her character and the symbolism in the movie, such as “being in a space where you are the minority, all of these people are very wealthy, white aristocracy. And Evie is someone who struggles financially, she’s not from a super-wealthy family, she’s a woman of color, she’s coming from such a different space. And so she’s already kind of on alert, on high alert, because she’s already at a kind of disadvantage in every possible way. But what they probably didn’t count on was how smart and savvy and the strength within her. ”
The Invitation is directed by Jessica M. Thompson and features many women in key roles behind the camera, including screenwriter Blair Butler. For Emmanuel, having a woman at the helm of The Invitation was a source of pride given how few female feature directors there are, let alone in the horror genre. The actor hailed Thompson as a “really, really smart, confident, knows-what-she-wants, brilliant director.” Emmanuel also praised Thompson for helping to craft the relationship between Evie and Thomas Doherty’s antagonist, Walter, whose seduction of Evie masks his nefarious true intentions: “Jess did a lot of work with us to help build that ease, that chemistry that they immediately have. , and which ultimately lures her into a false sense of security. ”
Check out the exclusive new poster and photos for The Invitation below:
As revealed in the trailer, Evie has been brought into a coven of vampires. Blood – literal blood and the notion of kinship – is “what the film is all about and what all the characters are motivated by,” director Thompson wrote to IGN. “Evie’s decision to take an innocuous DNA test is what propels her into this nightmare situation. All of us crave to know where we come from, our heritage, our family origins… But sometimes it is better to leave that history buried. Another central idea in the film is how ‘chosen family’ can often be more true and more valuable than blood, and I think that’s an idea everyone can relate to. ”
“The way into our story is unassuming and relatable. Evie is a New York City artist looking for belonging, so she takes a DNA test and finds some long-lost relatives. It’s a modern, relatable situation – one that many people find themselves in these days, including myself, ”Thompson said, acknowledging her own use of DNA testing. “Thankfully, my newfound relatives were decent humans and not part of a sinister cult.”
Since The Invitation is a vampire film, Thompson researched the history of the genre and the historical folklore that inspired it. “People have been obsessed with the undead for centuries. While prepping for the film I did a deep dive into vampire origin stories and it was surprising just how much we have deviated from history and adjusted the lore through the books and movies of the past 30 years, ”the director explained.
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