Many Paintings And Artifacts In The Invitation Have A Hidden Meaning [Exclusive]

In "Army of Thieves," Nathalie Emmanuel played a jewel thief in a zombie-adjacent world, but in "The Invitation," she's no longer content to be carrying out heists on the sidelines while monsters run amok elsewhere. "The Invitation" puts her right down in the thick of things with a "sexy aristocrat" in the countryside, per the official synopsis. The familiar "Dracula" setup betrays the film's not-so-secret vampire recipe, which is further bolstered by the appearance of fangs and blood-drinking and the name-dropping of Bram Stoker characters in the trailer for "The Invitation."

Emmanuel stars in "The Invitation" as Evie, a woman without family who discovers through a DNA test that she has a long-lost cousin, "the whitest man" her friend has ever seen. She responds to a wedding invite from him in order to learn about her family history, but as it turns out, her family tree may be something of an evergreen, while the enigmatic Walter (Thomas Doherty) may have her in mind as his immortal bride-to-be.

In /Film's interview with "The Invitation" director Jessica Thompson, the filmmaker discussed her approach to interior decoration vis-a-vis centuries-old vampires, saying: 

"To me, these people would been alive for hundreds of years, if not thousands. So it's the artifacts that they would collect throughout time. If you notice a lot of the paintings are, for instance, the abduction of the Sabine woman that we put in paintings, in sculptures that were usually about men oppressing women, basically, we thought that would be very subtle. I don't think anyone's picked up on them yet, but that's the art that [Walter] is drawn to, and I wanted a mixture of new and old."

When vases attack

Thompson also discussed putting Easter eggs in "The Invitation" that reference other vampire and horror movies. Whether intentional homages, unconscious influences, or just coincidental similarities, you can see some references like that in the trailer, which features a table full of party masks reminiscent of "Eyes Wide Shut," while the idea of a Black person being stared at by affluent white guests in a rural estate carries a whiff of "Get Out."

Collaborating with production designer Felicity Abbott, Thompson had an eye on things like vases and lighting fixtures, too. Every little detail in Walter's estate was intended to subtly convey something about the nature of the character or the themes of the movie:

"All the light fixtures in the house are extremely modern or even postmodern, very much contemporary. Me and [Felicity Abbott], the production designer, we specifically picked out specific vases, specific paintings. So the vase that [Evie] uses at the end to hurt someone, it's an old Chinese painting that depicts men dragging women along. So we tried to put that all in the artifacts, because we figured that's the world [Walter] likes and that he's created."

"The Invitation" is now playing exclusively in theaters.