The Uninvited (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 30, 2009  | 
DVD
Paramount (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English, English (FHI), Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish Subtitles. 84 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Directors: Charles Guard, Thomas Guard
Starring: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks
Screenplay: Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Country: USA
External Links
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Like it or not, the 'cinematic remake' is here to stay. What I didn't realise until researching this film was how many people are actually making entire careers of it. Looking at a list of producers of this film, The Uninvited, and peeking into films they have been responsible for, was quite a revelation.

This film has three producers, two co-producers and four producers, and combining all their resumes together looks like a list of every Asian to American remake produced in the last ten years: The Ring, The Grudge, Shutter, The Eye... the list goes on, and that's not to mention the other remakes they were responsible for as well, like Quarantine and Disturbia (oh c'mon, it was a remake of Hitchcock's Rear Window and you know it! It was like 'Rear Window for Dummies', which is probably why I enjoyed it!!).

Now I am no naysayer of remakes, and have enjoyed more than one.... even those NOT made by John Carpenter in the early eighties. Do I think they are unnecessary? Yes. Do I think they are worthless endeavours? Not always. The Uninvited is one of those that is actually good.

The Uninvited is a remake of the Korean film 'Janghwa, Hongryeon ', also known by the English title A Tale of Two Sisters, ( one of the highest grossing Korean films of all time), though it has been modified for Western audiences, and the story is more complete, and less ambiguous.

The Uninvited tells of a young woman, Anna (Emily Browning) who has spent a year in a sanatorium after the death of her mother, and her subsequent attempt to commit suicide. She dreams regularly about the night, but can never seem to quite put the pieces in her head together.

She returns home with her father, author  Steven Rydell (David Strathairn) to her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) and her father's girlfriend, Rachel Summers (Elizabeth Banks) with whom she has a tenuous relationship, mainly because she was her ailing mother's nurse, and after her death, conveniently moved in with and on, her father.

Even with her sisters support though, Anna feels like something isn't right and she starts having strange premonitions and visions of her mother accusing Rachel of her death, and the deaths of three children, but are they premonitions? Is she actually being visited by ghosts who are telling her to be wary of Rachel? After some research, Anna and Alex get some dirt on Rachel, and it is then that things start to get dangerous for the two girls, as Rachel makes it quite clear that no matter what, she is here to stay!

Straight off the bat I have to talk about how well acted this film is. The directors, Charles and Thomas Guard, have gotten some amazing performance from all involved. Strathairn is typically brilliant, and Kebbel rises above her usual 'teen role, but it is Browning and Banks that provide the real performances.

Browning's abilities far outweigh her age and she really seems to absorb the role of Anna to the nth degree, and Banks performance as Rachel is a evil as any wicked stepmother has ever been in cinema, but without the vaudevillian, evil cackling one expects these roles to sometimes be delivered as. Her performance has subtleties to it that have made me realise she is far more than the Slither/Zack and Miri Make A Porno type actor, and does actually have some real capabilities that have yet to really be explored.

Some elements of the story are a little contrived at times, but the performances manage to overcome that. The cinematography is crisp and locations are luxuriant and the combination of all these elements makes for a pleasurable viewing experience.
Video
The film is presented in 16:9 widescreen and is an excellent transfer throughout. I must add again that the director really have created a beautiful, verdant image that thoroughly impresses.
Audio
This film is presented in a lush Dolby Digital 5.1 that makes great use of both the background noises of the setting, like water lapping and general forest white noise, and that of the soundtrack, which at no time becomes too overbearing.
Extra Features
A small but decent extras package on this disc.

First we have a documentary called Unlocking the Uninvited, which shows interviews and sound bytes of cast and crew discussing their reasons behind making and starring in this film. While it is only short, it does feature a fair bit of information and doesn't drop into 'oh I've always wanted to work with him' type crap so often seen on these types of extras. One of the amusing things about this feature was hearing Emily Browning's Australian accent: after Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Ghost Ship and other films she has been in where she has had to cover her accent, it was almost jarring to hear it!

There is also a series of four deleted scenes titled Anna Arriving Home, Girls at Dock, Rachel Changes Anna's Sheets and Anna Packs Her Bags. Now it is not often you will hear this from me, because mostly with these deleted scenes you can see immediately why the directors removed them, but here, the scenes could have fit quite perfectly into the film. It does occasionally however, give away the ending, so that would be why they were removed. Mind you, any right minded horror fan should have spotted the ending a decent way into the movie.

There is also an Alternate Ending which is really an alternate epilogue, and would have ended the film on a completely different tone, making the antagonist's attitudes to their crimes more predetermined.
The Verdict
This is a well acted, well crafted film that has the unfortunate stigma of being a remake. Fans of the Korean film will probably hate how it completely removes any ambiguity that makes the original what it is and horror fans may get the 'twist' early, but if you can, sit back and try to enjoy it for what it is: an atmospheric horror film.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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