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This Missing Piece Of The Dracula Mythos Inspired Jessica M. Thompson's The Invitation - Exclusive

One of the most fascinating (and horrifying) aspects of "Dracula" mythology is that of Dracula's brides. We never get much backstory or characterization from these women — mainly because Dracula treats them like props. To him, they are merely decorative belongings he can flaunt and use for his own ends. But who were these women before Dracula got his fangs in them? In the novel, they don't even have names, much less individual personalities or any kind of personhood. Even in modern retellings of "Dracula," the brides are little more than silenced set dressing. So how did Dracula hoard three brides, and what is their story?

"The Invitation" director Jessica M. Thompson wanted to give these forgotten women a voice, shining a light on the sexism and classism that goes along with predatory men treating women like possessions. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Thompson revealed how Dracula's brides helped inspire "The Invitation" and how projects like "The Handmaid's Tale" informed her vision.

Giving the brides a voice

When we described "The Invitation" as a slow-burn mystery with "Get Out" vibes and some high society and cult-like elements, Jessica Thompson said, "You just summed up the film so perfectly. Yeah, there was a lot of inspiration for this film. I grew up watching horror. I'm a big fan of 'The Shining,' 'The Silence of the Lambs,' 'Rosemary's Baby,' [and] 'The Fly.' Those were all the things that I grew up on, and I always wanted to make a horror film, so when the opportunity came to me, I jumped on it straight away."

However, what truly excited Thompson was the opportunity to dive into an origin story for the brides of Dracula. She explained, "It was, in particular, this story because I felt like I hadn't seen an origin story of the brides of Dracula. They were always there in the background of other films, but they were never front and center, and that intrigued me."

No matter how much time has passed or how many vampire projects are in circulation, the genre never seems to go out of style. There's something captivating about these fanged fiends, and unraveling the psyche of what draws people to these beings both on and off the screen is half the fun. Thompson described her own fascination with these beings, adding, "Vampires have always lured me. There's something about them — because they look like us. Throughout history, humans have always known about them, been scared of them, but also been tempted by them. There's something very seductive about them. It's such an interesting genre, and I wanted to put my take on it."

Women who save themselves

Jessica Thompson was a second unit director on an episode of "The Handmaid's Tale." She confirmed that the series helped inform the treatment of classism in "The Invitation" — among other elements. "Not just classism, but sexism for sure. That's definitely one of the undercurrents and one of the themes. I wanted to make a 'me too' film, but I didn't want to make it about any of the horrible, real-life predators that we know. So I thought, why not exemplify that through one of the most diabolical, oldest predators of all time?"

While we've seen plenty of young women get caught up in the seduction of vampires and ultimately lose all of their individuality and reason, Thompson wanted a protagonist who fights back once she realizes things aren't as glamorous as they seem. "Evie is someone, a young woman, who rises up against that, and she's empowered by the end, and she takes charge. Sometimes, the only way to dismantle a system that's as old as patriarchy or colonialism is to go from the inside out."

"The Invitation" drops exclusively in theaters on August 26.