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'The Uninvited' Movie Review

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)

By

'The Uninvited' movie poster.
© DreamWorks
Unlike many horror movie fans, I think there's a place for remakes -- especially when it comes to foreign films. Face it, there's a significant number of Americans who would never watch a subtitled movie, and they may not even take a dubbed foreign film seriously. Given the xenophobia, I welcome a remake like The Uninvited, which retools the 2003 hit A Tale of Two Sisters, one of the more renowned Korean horror movies of all time (meaning it's still relatively unknown in the US).

The Plot

Anna (Emily Browning) is a good teen girl whose terminally ill mother dies in a tragic fire. Traumatized and suicidal, Anna spends the next 10 months in a mental facility, leaving behind her party girl sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel). When Anna is finally released, she returns home to find that her father (David Strathairn) has wasted little time by having his new girlfriend, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), move in.

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

L-R: Anna (Emily Browning) and Alex (Arielle Kebbel) in 'The Uninvited'.

L-R: Anna (Emily Browning) and Alex (Arielle Kebbel) in 'The Uninvited'.

Photo: Kimberley French © DreamWorks
There's little particularly wrong with The Uninvited, but there's also little original or inspiring. Of course, originality is tough to come by when you're remaking a film, but it doesn't help to throw in tired horror clichés like a little ghost girl warning of certain doom. (Ironically, Browning played such a part in 2002's Ghost Ship.)

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.)

The directorial debut of brothers Charles and Thomas Guard shows promise, painting scenic portraits that make use of the natural seaside landscape. However, genuine scares are few and far between, as the ghosts end up adding little impact to the movie (spookier makeup for the ghost girl would've helped). That said, the suspenseful tension and cat-and-mouse jostling between the protagonists maintain the movie's momentum, and in the end, The Uninvited works more as a mystery thriller than as a supernatural horror movie.

The Skinny

Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) in 'The Uninvited'.

Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) in 'The Uninvited'.

Photo: Kimberley French © DreamWorks
  • 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.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
The Uninvited, Member Jennersz

Overall, this movie is amazing. It's about this girl named Anna. In the beginning of the movie, Anna's mother is sick. So her father hires a nanny who claims her name is ""Reachel"" to help care for the mother. But, then there's a fire and the mother dies. Anna said the nanny started the fire, so Anna is sent to a mental hospital for 10 months. In the hospital, there is this women named Mildren Kemp. Mildred tells Anna lots of stories, like a story when she killed A mother and her three children. Then, when Anna leaves the mental hospital, she sees the ""nanny"" that took care of her ill mother was engaged to her father. Later that night, Anna sees her dead mother warning her about that nanny who claimes her name is Reachel. Alex, Anna's sister is also convinced it was ""Recheal"" who killed their mom. One day, Anna's boyfriend Matt sees Anna at her house. He stops by and says hi, but when Recheal sees them talking, she tells Matt to leave. He goes. Later on that week, Recheal and Anna go to the store. Before they go to the store, they go to a coffee place. Anna compliments Recheal on her pearl necklace. Recheal says it was a gift. After the cofee shop, they go to the store. At the store, anna sees Matt. Matt tells her he saw something that started the fire. But, Recheal catches them talking, so she says Her and anna have to leave. Matt tells Anna to meet him at the rock at 11 at night. When its nighttime, Anna and her sister Alex go to the rock. They wait and wait for Mathew, but he doesnt come. Finally, when they go inside and Anna goes to her room, she sees Mathew come into her bedroom. She questions him why he didnt go to the rock with her because she was waiting for him there, but he said that Anna's mother warned him. He didn't say about what, but he just said she warned him. Matt and Anna begin kissing, but when Anna feels Matt's back, she steps away. He said he hit the rock when he was swimming, and that also explained why he was soking wet. Anna goes out of her room into the hall, and when she steps back into her room a few minutes later, Matt's gone. When she wakes up the next morning, her and Alex go outside and see the police and a couple of helicopters outside of their house near the rock. The helicopter pulls down a long rope, and when they pull up the rope, there's Matt. Alex walks over while Anna starts crying. The police ask why she's crying and if theres anything she needs, she can always tell him. As Anna and Alex are walking away, Recheal tells them that she didnt want Matt here. The girls decide to run a background check on Recheal and see who she really is. They see her real name isn't Recheal, and... Maximum number of charechters reached.

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