The Story: Anna (Emily Browning) has been placed in a mental institution for ten months since the death of her mother in a fire. When she returns home her father has found romance with his wife’s nurse Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). Anna tries to acclimate to her new life and her father’s new woman but is constantly seeing her mother’s ghost and three dead children, all saying the fire wasn’t an accident and that Rachel might have had something to do with it. In delving into Rachel’s history Anna and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) start to believe their father’s girlfriend has it in for them.
Pros: The advertisements for The Uninvited are lackluster to say the least which unfortunately will prevent people from knowing this movie exists, which is a shame because it’s a surprisingly strong film. Even though the movie is a remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, it stands on its own and does well in a new American setting. While at times a spooky ghost tale the movie also has some relatable themes including losing a parent, and the inevitable remarriage of the surviving parent. The movie takes it’s time establishing the characters and Anna doesn’t immediately hate Rachel like in most movies. The two really develop some sort of relationship before things take a turn into horror and there could have been a really deep character drama without all the ghosts and ghouls. When the movie does go into horror territory it does have some good scares, mostly jump scares, but the ghost of the mom is the scariest and reminiscent of Zelda in the film adaptation of Pet Semetary. There are quite a few twists towards the end but the very last one is by far the best. It ties everything together perfectly and I truly didn’t expect it. This is a movie that you can sit back and enjoy; while the story is weak the acting is what transcends this film above just another Asian remake.
Cons: The biggest issues I had with this movie dealt with the story. There is a twist involving one of the characters that is highly based off another movie and if you have see that other movie you’ll figure it out literally within the first five minutes. I don’t tend to overanalyze horror movies so when I can easily grasp the first plot twist that’s not a good sign. The twist at the end is one of the top ten most overused horror movie clichés and I really wasn’t happy to see it. The movie does have a satisfying twist at the very end to tie up something major but the crux of the film is based on this incredibly cliché twist. These issues won’t really hinder your enjoyment if you know that you won’t be surprised at the end.
Acting: If The Uninvited didn’t have such a strong cast it could be completely written off as another bad remake. The mostly female cast is incredibly talented and has some electrifying chemistry. Young Emily Browning as Anna is amazing. She has an innocent vulnerability that Browning conveys with just a look and her relationship with Elizabeth Banks is some of the best scenes in the movie. Banks herself is perfect as Rachel. If you’ve recently seen her in Zach and Miri Make a Porno this is a complete 180 for the actress. She has a great sweetness and warmth to her in the beginning but can easily turn menacing and spiteful in a second. A scene in particular where she kicks Anna out of her bedroom is a particular highlight. Arielle Kebbel rounds out the female roles as Anna’s sassy sister Alex. I love Kebbel and here she’s just a fun girl who loves her sister. She doesn’t have the most fleshed out role but I enjoyed her time with Browning. David Strathairn seems the most out of place as the father, Steven. He does fine with the small screen time he’s given but he’s not really a necessary character and he doesn’t seem as involved in the film as the actresses.
Overall: I was surprised that in 2009 I’ve seen two good horror movies. The Uninvited isn’t the best horror film you’ll see in your life but it’s far better than some of the same films in the genre from last year. The cast really makes this film and I was glad I saw it. I give it a 4/5.