“The Invitation” was titled “The Bride,” which didn’t go down well with men

The turn? As filmmaker Jessica M. Thompson tells IndieWire, whatever its name, the film is still a feminist vampire joint.

[Editor’s note: The following article contains light spoilers for “The Invitation.”]

When early test audiences checked out Sony’s latest horror offering, the men had one complaint: they didn’t like the title. Originally known as The Bride, director Jessica M. Thompson’s second feature film soon became The Invitation. The clou: Regardless of the name, it’s still a feminist vampire film.

“I loved ‘The Bride,’ I thought it was a great title, but it really didn’t resonate with male audiences, which is disappointing,” Thompson said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “Obviously ‘The Invitation’ is a play about vampires having to be invited in the house, things like that. There were a few others that I thought were good contenders as well, but the audience overwhelmingly said they loved this one. … The thing is, I was an independent filmmaker before, this is my first studio film and Sony is an incredible partner. Everything I asked for I got. Not everyone can say that. They’re a huge company and they know how to do this marketing stuff.”

This includes the film’s trailers, which some viewers were worried gave away the film’s entire plot. Thompson doesn’t like spoilers, but is aware that younger audiences are dying to get a bigger preview before buying a ticket.

“They have assured me that this is the right approach,” she said. “Gen-Zs and stuff, supposedly they really are do want to know a little bit of everything before stepping into the movie. I’m open to it. I trust that, even though I know it [the trailer] reveals a lot of the twist, I think I I’d rather not go in to have that shock factor. But there’s still a lot about the film that isn’t being revealed.”

BTS from director/writer/executive producer Jessica M.Thompson and Nathalie Emmanuel on the set of Screen Gems THE INVITATION

Jessica M. Thompson and Nathalie Emmanuel on the set of The Invitation

Marcel Piti

The film follows Evie (“Game of Thrones” breakout Nathalie Emmanuel), a grown orphan who weaves her way through city life and feels quite alone. After taking a DNA test, she’s delighted to discover a completely unknown side of the family – and not only are they eager to meet her, they’re rich as hell, the kind of people who own mansions in the English countryside .

When Evie heads out to a family wedding to meet the rest of her clan, she is surprised by a seductive family friend, Walter (Thomas Doherty), who makes eyes at her. But what exactly does Walter want from Evie? One thing Thompson isn’t at all afraid to reveal is that the film isn’t just a vampire story; it’s a direct homage to the most famous vampire of them all.

“The film features over a hundred Easter eggs from Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula,'” she said of the seminal gothic horror novel. “I see it as a feminist reinterpretation of ‘Brides of Dracula’, like an origin story, but I don’t think we want to limit ourselves to that. I thought, ‘I’ve never seen that before. And that’s a really empowering story and I want to tell it.” It’s great to have these source materials that have stood the test of time and give you inspiration, but I think the film is timely and has evolved from the source away.”

This has to do with the casting, which adds a new dimension to the decades-old story. When Thompson first read Blair Butler’s original screenplay, Evie was not a woman of color. When they began rewriting, Thompson wanted to change Evie’s race.

“I really wanted her to be a woman of color [because] This is a patriarchy-crushing story, and I think for the most part, women of color have been the most disenfranchised group,” Thompson said. “It adds these little layers, it adds these little elements. Nathalie Emmanuel is always someone I’m a big fan of. I loved her as Missandei [in ‘Game of Thrones’] and I thought she would be incredible for the role.”

BTS by Thomas Doherty and Director/Writer/Executive Producer Jessica M. Thompson in Screen Gems THE INVITATION

Jessica M. Thompson and Thomas Doherty on the set of The Invitation

Marcel Piti

Above all, Thompson said, she wants to make a film about complicated, compelling women. Thompson won the 2017 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award for her in-depth portrait of life after sexual assault, The Light of the Moon, and while the Australian editor-director knew she wanted to keep telling stories about women, she wasn’t eager to duplicate the making of this film.

“This may really shock you, but I’ve been offered a lot of rape films [after ‘The Light of the Moon’],” she said. “‘The Light of the Moon’ really pulled me in. I did every single one [non-acting] Role: writing, directing, editing, producing.” The film cost about $100,000. Thompson also designed the poster and led his social media campaign. It was a true labor of love, but she was eager to see his themes translated elsewhere. Appearance: feminist vampire film.

“I just love complicated women, and I love women who rise, rise from the ashes, rise through trauma, rise through difficult times,” she said. “I like a flawed model and I don’t think there are enough of them on screen. It’s so crazy to me that in 2022 there are still so many tropes for female roles. … I’m drawn to these stories of empowering women, not because they’re perfect or better than everyone else, but simply because they are who they are. We don’t just want power suits and dress like men. We want to be who we are.”

Or, as luck would have it, to twist an old favorite, no matter what it’s called.

A Sony release, The Invitation, hits theaters on Friday, August 26th.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/08/the-invitation-vampire-interview-1234754757/ “The Invitation” was titled “The Bride,” which didn’t go down well with men

Lindsay Lowe

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