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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.13%
Worth A Look: 9.38%
Average: 6.25%
Pretty Bad78.13%
Total Crap: 3.13%

4 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Uninvited, The (2009)
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by Mel Valentin

"Unsurprisingly inferior to the original."
2 stars

The television ads and online trailers or "The Uninvited," the English-language remake of Ji-woon Kimís "A Tale of Two Sisters," a psychological horror film released stateside in 2003 in South Korea and a year later stateside, proudly link "The Uninvited' to Gore Verbinskiís 2002 remake of "The Ring" and D.J. Carusoís "]Disturbia" (a teen-oriented remake of Alfred Hitchcockís 1954 mystery/thriller, "Rear Window") through the unnamed producers who contributed to all three films, promising the same level or quantity of scares, shocks, and style that made "The Ring" and "Disturbia" mainstream hits with cross-demographic appeal (i.e., young and old, male and female). That promise, unfortunately, turned out to be one promise too many for the producers of "The Uninvited" and Charles and Thomas Guard, Brit music video directors making an uninspired, inauspicious feature-film debut.

Despite the unnecessary, somewhat confusing title change (several other films share the same title, including an unconnected 1944 film centered on a haunted house), The Uninvited still centers on teenage sisters, Anna (Emily Browning) and Alex (Arielle Kebbel). After the premature death of their mother (Maya Massar) in an accidental fire, Anna suffered an emotional breakdown. After ten months in a psychiatric hospital, Annaís psychiatrist, Dr. Silberling (Dean Paul Gibson), declares her ready to return home where she can be reunited with Alex, her novelist father, Steven (David Strathairn), and Rachael (Elizabeth Banks), her motherís former nurse and her fatherís current girlfriend. Almost immediately, Anna and Rachel clash. Anna begins to suspect Rachel's involvement in her motherís death, earlier neglect, and scheming to marry her father for his money.

The Uninvited relocates the setting from South Korea to the Pacific Northwest (actually British Columbia in the usual effort to compensate for the slumping American dollar), expands on the number of characters and subplots, adding a prologue (actually a dream sequence) that mixes Annaís recollections of her motherís last night, a beach0side date with one-time boyfriend, Matt (Jesse Moss), apparently disconnected, random images, and a midnight stroll on an underlit forest path that leads to a makeshift grave, three garbage bags, and the body of a preteen, red-headed girl. Like A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited is structured around a misdirection-heavy literary conceit, but the ending radically dilutes or otherwise eliminates the subtlety, ambiguity, and profundity that made A Tale of Two Sisters a near-masterpiece of psychological horror (not to mention an example of the now faded ďJ-horrorí cycle at its best).

The fault (and it is fault) lies primarily with the screenplay. It took three credited screenwriters, Craig Rosenberg (After the Sunset, Lost), Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard (The Great Raid) to neuter Ji-woon Kimís genre-transcending screenplay so thoroughly, but thatís exactly what they did. Presumably at the direction of The Uninvitedís producers, Rosenberg, Miro, and Bernardís screenplay smoothes out the thought-provoking, discussion-enhancing ambiguities found in Kimís screenplay for American moviegoers who couldnít be expected to ďreadĒ The Uninvited for visual and narrative clues and ascertain the filmís meaning or themes on their own. That, apparently, is beyond the average American moviegoerís abilities.

The Guard Brothers and their short-on-suspense, pedestrian directing style deserve an equal share of the blame. The Guard Brothers seem incapable of setting mood or atmosphere as well ("The Uninvited" has to be one of the most overlit horror films in recent memory). Minus (or plus, depending on your perspective), the mostly restrained, watchable performances, with the uncharacteristic exception of Elizabeth Banks, who overplays Rachel as the archetypically evil stepmother (or stepmother wannabe), that should be enough to dissuade anyone whoís seen (and appreciated) "A Tale of Two Sisters" from checking out the remake. If you havenít seen "A Tale of Two Sisters," then skip "The Uninvited" altogether and rent that instead. You wonít regret it.

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originally posted: 01/31/09 01:00:00
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

3/30/14 The Big D Nothing especially original, but well done entertainment for horror and suspense fans. 4 stars
7/27/12 Amanda Smith Not too scary. Didn't see the ending coming. 5 stars
9/08/09 Rip VanWinkle Watch "A Tale of Two Sisters" instead. Reviewer obviously did NOT. 2 stars
5/26/09 mr.mike Not bad at all as a rental. 4 stars
3/22/09 james obrien total cow dung 1 stars
3/19/09 Lenny Zane Last part totally incoherent. So was Rachel really bad or not? 3 stars
2/06/09 Alejandro Sosa the movie often tried to add a new edge to this already done idea, could of been better 3 stars
2/01/09 Ming Great exciting movie 4 stars
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  30-Jan-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 28-Apr-2009


  DVD: 28-Apr-2009

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