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The Uninvited (2009)

Fear moves in

Directed by:

Charles Guard

Thomas Guard

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 87 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

Country: United States, Germany, Canada

So, at first I thought that The Uninvited seemed familiar because Emily Browning looks like Shannen Doherty and it all started off a little “Beverly Hills, 90210”-with ghosts-ish, what with the party and the dramatics. Then I thought no, maybe it’s that it’s really not offering much in the way of originality—like the recent Mirrors, it’s brimming with one horror cliché after another. Then a lightbulb went on over my head and I realized that, despite the truth of all those assessments, the real reason this all seemed SO familiar was that is WAS—this is an Americanized, watered down version of one of my favorite films, Korea’s A Tale of Two Sisters. I’m telling you now—if you want an actually scary scary movie, stop reading and go rent the original. That being said, this isn’t the worst there is out there.

Anna (Browning) has been sorting out her various degrees of psychosis in a nearby institution ever since the death of her mother. Though terminally ill, Mom didn’t die from her illness—seems the boathouse she was staying in went up in smoke under mysterious circumstances. To make matter worse, Anna arrives home to find the home she left behind occupied by not just her father (David Strathairn) and sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel), but a new member of the family—her mother’s former live-in nurse and father’s current live-in girlfriend Rachael (Elizabeth Banks). Haunted by strange occurrences and dreams of unpleasant-looking kids, Anna enlists Alex to help her prove her suspicions are true, and that Rachael isn’t all she’s cracked up to be.
OK—the movie’s not scary. There are maybe three moments that might startle a casual watcher, but really, if you’ve ever seen a horror film before, they won’t faze you. There’s an element of suspense, but even that doesn’t hold up once you’ve figured out the big twist—and believe me, you’ll figure it out.

It’s not a bad movie, however, if you’re looking for diversion or a little Movie of the Week mystery; the performances are competent, and Browning does a nice job of conveying the possible unreliable heroine. Banks, as well, is both bitchy and chilling as Rachael, and even if I wasn’t scared, I did squirm uncomfortably when she cuddled and cooed with Anna’s dad while the poor girl watched—and really, what kind of nurse tells one of her dead patient’s daughters that she got through the bad days of her job by telling herself her elderly, sick charges would be dead soon? There are some nice story touches like that throughout the film; problem is, they don’t make the overall finished product any better.

It's Got: A convincing bitch, a coherent if forgettable story, ghost kids

It Needs: Less predictability, better cover for the big twist, more scare

Alternatives:

A Tale of Two Sisters, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, The Sixth Sense

Summary

Not bad if you saw it on TV, this remake of the much stronger A Tale of Two Sisters lacks any real boo factor and is, in the end, not very memorable.

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