Friday, February 17, 2012

#550. The Uninvited (2009)

Directed By: Charles Guard, Thomas Guard

Starring: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, Elizabeth Banks

Tag line: "Can you believe what you see?"

Trivia:  a remake of a 2003 Korean Horror film A Tale of Two Sisters

Anna (Emily Browning) has spent the last 10 months in a mental institution, trying to come to terms with the death of her mother, who was killed in a tragic house fire. Cleared by her doctor (Dean Paul Gibson) to return home, Anna's thrilled to be reunited with both her father (David Strathairn) and sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel). And then there's Rachel (Elizabeth banks), dad's new live-in girlfriend who was also her mother's nurse at the time of the tragedy. Neither Anna nor Alex care much for dad's new squeeze, but what starts out as contempt soon turns to suspicion when Anna begins experiencing visions of the recently deceased, all of whom seem to be warning her about Rachel. The two girls delve into Rachel's past, where they uncover everything from false identities to suspected murder, yet despite the overwhelming evidence they've gathered, their father isn't quite ready to admit he might be sharing his bed with a monster. 

A remake of the 2003 Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited offers plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end, and the various apparitions that visit Anna in the night, including her deceased mother (Maya Massar), are enough to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention. But just as impressive as the film's story is the stylish way in which it's presented. For one, The Uninvited contains a number of vivid dream sequences, like the one where Anna, while strolling through the forest, comes across three trash bags filled with body parts (one containing the remains of a young girl, played by Lex Burnham, who will visit her several more times throughout the film). The directors, Charles and Thomas Guard, also get a bit creative with their camera, allowing it to move freely, shooting the action from high above, or gliding across the floor, thus enhancing the film's otherworldly feel. 

All three actresses at the center of The Uninvited deliver outstanding performances. Emily Browning plays Anna as slightly withdrawn and somewhat vulnerable, yet at the same time keen to what's going on around her. Arielle Kebbel's Alex is bitchy enough to be believable, and Elizabeth Banks' Rachel evolves from friendly-yet-creepy to downright sinister as the plot progresses, proving she's capable of more evil than anyone, especially dear old dad, would have given her credit for. These three, along with the film's engaging style and a truly surprising ending, all work in unison to transform The Uninvited into a smart, compelling ghost story.


Crash Palace said...

Wonderful review of an often maligned horror that is quite solid and compelling. I truly enjoyed the film, and I'm glad you did as well, Dave.

Jake Moore AKA: @RiverCityOtter said...

I agree with you David & @crashpalace before watching I had only heard mild & very mediocre musings about the film. I was sucked into the storyline from the start found this the be a solid horror thriller!