Rachel seems nice enough, but the sisters don't trust her, in part because she was their mother's nurse before she died. Soon enough, Rachel's polite veneer cracks after a few instances of mild disobedience, and the battle lines are drawn. Anna's fears reach a whole new level when she's visited one night by her mother's ghost, claiming that she was murdered. Alex believes Anna's story -- a bit too readily -- and the girls set about researching Rachel's background.
It turns out that their new mom-to-be has an assumed name, and they begin to believe that she's in fact Mildred Kemp, a nanny who several years ago drugged and stabbed the children she was caring for. Their suspicions are bolstered by the fact that Anna is also being visited by the ghosts of those three kids, warning her that she's next. But can they convince their father of Rachel's evil intentions, or will Anna's accusations be seen as the ravings of a crazy woman?
The End Product
That said, I give The Uninvited credit for shying away from a slavish remake (see The Eye or Shutter) and taking some chances with the script. While not all of the changes work, the new film eliminates some of the nagging vagueness of A Tale of Two Sisters -- although it also eliminates much of the original's rich, dark fairy tale atmosphere.
Having seen the first film, it's hard to judge how impactful the twist ending in the remake is, but it seems fairly predictable, especially in an era in which movies like The Ring, The Sixth Sense, The Others and Shutter have taught us to expect some sort of "gotcha" moment from ghost stories. At the very least, the twist is a lot less shocking than it was in the original.
On the bright side, The Uninvited doesn't feel like a typical teen (or "tween") horror flick. It has more class, purpose and brains than recent PG-13 teen-skewed fare like Prom Night and The Haunting of Molly Hartley -- in part because of the strong source material and an able cast that keeps you involved even if you figure out the twist. (Also, there's a nice additional semi-twist that wraps up some loose plot points.)
- Acting: B (Strong work from Browning and Banks propel the film's tension.)
- Direction: C+ (Pretty cinematography, but scares could be delivered more effectively.)
- Script: B- (A bit predictable, but most of the changes to the original work.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (Not much gore, and some of the ghost effects could be more intense.)
- Overall: B- (A solid mystery that happens to have ghosts in it.)
The Uninvited is directed by Charles and Thomas Guard and is rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing images, thematic material, sexual content, language and teen drinking. Release date: January 30, 2009.