Invitation to a Murder parents guide

Invitation to a Murder Parent Guide

Plot holes, flat acting, and unconvincing characters make for a story that lacks tension or urgency.

Overall C

Online Rental: Six strangers are invited to a reclusive billionaire's estate. But when someone turns up murdered, aspiring detective Miranda Green must get to the bottom of it.

Release date April 25, 2023

Violence B-
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B+
Substance Use C

Why is Invitation to a Murder rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Invitation to a Murder PG-13 for some violent content and smoking.

Run Time: 92 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Would you accept an invitation to a remote island from a wealthy recluse who you have never met? When six people accept enigmatic invitations from textile magnate Lewis Findlay, they wind up at his imposing estate. To their surprise, they discover that not only is their host absent, but that they are subject to power outages, late night misadventures and murder.

As fear overtakes the guests, Miranda Green (Mischa Barton) steps up to figure out “whodunit”. The London florist is a murder mystery afficionado who has a keen ability to observe details that others miss. Utilizing her Sherlock-Holmes-like talents, she turns her gaze on her fellow guests. There’s Donald Walker (Chris Browning), a bitter, hard-boiled American reporter; Lawrence Kane (Seamus Dever), a debonair English lawyer; Carmen Blanco (Bianca Santos), a charming waitress from Seville; Dr. Philip Armstrong (Giles Matthey), a British physician; and Lu Wang (Grace Lynn Kung), a stereotypically inscrutable woman from China. Miranda carefully watches her fellow guests and the three household servants before sharing her solution to the mystery.

Miranda is a devoted reader of Agatha Christie’s novels, and fellow fans will recognize where this script borrows from the First Lady of Crime. In addition to stealing plot ideas, this movie shares other classic Christie features – a remote country house, a restricted pool of suspects, red herrings, eerie moments, stock characters, and a limited emotional repertoire.

Overall, Invitation to a Murder is a disappointing production. It never manages to be scary or compelling; to the contrary, it’s instantly forgettable. Flat acting and unconvincing characters contribute to a made-for-TV vibe. Plot holes are also a problem, with the biggest being the delay in calling the police. Two people are dead before it occurs to anyone to call the cops and there is no explanation for the wait – except that the screenwriters apparently want to give Miranda more time to flex her detecting muscles. The story is clearly sequel-baiting at the end, but given its flaws, a series seems highly unlikely.

On the plus side, the movie is quite clean, with most violence off screen, no bedroom scenes, and limited profanity. One character smokes constantly and drinks to excess, but alcohol consumption by other characters is limited to social events. This film comes in on the light end of the PG-13 rating and if your teens are obsessed with murder mysteries this might work for you. On the other hand, fans of whodunit flicks will almost certainly expect something more intriguing than the unremarkable story that slowly unfolds across their screens. If a movie replaces “who did it?” with “who cares?”, that’s not exactly an encouragement for potential audiences.

Directed by Stephen Shimek. Starring Mischa Barton, Chris Browning, Bianca A. Santos. Running time: 92 minutes. Theatrical release April 25, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for Invitation to a Murder

Invitation to a Murder
Rating & Content Info

Why is Invitation to a Murder rated PG-13? Invitation to a Murder is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some violent content and smoking.

Violence: A man is murdered off screen: the killing is seen in shadows only and the bloody knife is visible at the end. Another man is killed off screen: he is heard shouting before he dies and is later shown strangled. There are bloodstains on a person’s shirt and drops of blood on the floor. There’s mention of a man beating his wife. A man admits to having killing someone. A person shatters a glass by throwing it on the floor. A weapon is seen stuck in a tree and dripping with blood. A dead man is seen with bloody injuries from being stabbed. A man attempts to strangle someone. A dead man is seen after having been strangled.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss. There is mention of illegitimacy.
Profanity: There are eight profanities in the film, including terms of deity and minor swear words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A man smokes cigarettes constantly. Adults drink alcohol at social functions and one character drinks to excess. 

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Invitation to a Murder Parents' Guide

Why does Findlay invite the six guests to his island? What do you think of his plan? Can you think of more effective and less dangerous ways in which he could achieve his goals?

Home Video

Related home video titles:

This movie’s plot borrows from Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. For movies adapted directly from her work, you can watch Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. See How They Run is a murder mystery/satire that includes Agatha Christie as a character in the film.

New Orleans private investigator Benoit Blanc solves murderous puzzles in Knives Out and

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.

Another detective renowned for his observation skills and deductive powers is Sherlock Holmes. He appears on the big screen in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

For more family-friendly mystery fare you can watch Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop, Hoodwinked, or Sherlock Gnomes.