What's Up With The Outlander Reference In The Invitation? [Exclusive]

There are plenty of mysteries baked into new thriller "The Invitation." There's the mystery of Evie's (Nathalie Emmanuel) lineage: a quest to figure out her family history that leads her to meet Oliver (Hugh Skinner), an apparent long-lost cousin. There's the mystery of the family gathering she attends with Oliver, an opulent wedding held at an imposing English countryside manor where the dress code seems to be "Eyes Wide Shut" chic. And there are mysteries involving unknown brides and vampiric rituals, too. But there's one small but intriguing mystery we've gotten to the bottom of as the movie hits theaters this weekend: why does Evie own an "Outlander" T-shirt?

/Film's Jack Giroux recently spoke with "The Invitation" director Jessica M. Thompson for a wide-ranging interview about the film's practical effects, horror nods, and more. Along the way, the pair touched on a notable detail from the movie: a scene in which Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) wears an "Outlander" shirt. As Thompson explained, the shirt is a great way to silently signal Evie's motivations for staying at the family event long after spooky things start to happen.

"I didn't want us to feel like her staying was completely unbelievable or anything like that, because she is falling in love, and these [people] are her family," Thompson says of Evie facing the horrors of the film rather than running from them. One way to let us in on the heroine's headspace and justification for staying? With a shirt that signifies her love for adventure and romance. It turns out the character is a fan of the lusty Starz TV show based on Diana Gabaldon's equally steamy time travel romance novels.

A time travel romance sets the scene

Thompson says people who watch "The Invitation" have mentioned the shirt to her often. "A lot of people have asked me specifically, 'What were you trying to say?'" she says of the shirt. "I was like, 'I think it's pretty obvious that this is a woman who believes in romance.'" As much as it's a horror movie, "The Invitation" starts off with love story potential, as Evie is seduced by estate owner Walter DeVille (Thomas Doherty) after Oliver invites her to the destination wedding.

The shirt is a hint that Evie is someone who's receptive to getting swept off her feet, but it's more than that, too: "I wanted to [feature] a series that's about going back in time, and she feels like she's almost stepped back in time when she walks into this world," Thompson explained. There certainly is a time-travel like feeling to aesthetics on display in the film's overly-revealing trailer, as dapperly-dressed characters don what appear to be ornate antique masks during a particularly strange dinner table scene.

Of course, there's also the fact that "Outlander" is simply one of the hottest shows on TV, even after six seasons on the air. Thompson confesses that she, like many people, binged the show during quarantine, and decided it would be nice to "give a little nod" to the star-crossed romance and drama of "Outlander."

"The Invitation" is now in theaters.