Oct 1, 2014

Review: The Uninvited (2009)

From the same producers that made the American remake of the Japanese horror film The Ring, here they are back again with a remake of Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. I really liked A Tale of Two Sisters a lot. It was beautifully shot, the setting was unbelievably atmospheric and it just had this really creepy vibe the whole way through. Kim Jee-woon who directed the film also penned the story which was also quite complicated.

You know pretty much right away that the story is going to be simplified for North American audiences. It's a business decision and I understand why it has to be done. That doesn't mean I have to like it though. It'd be easy to just compare The Uninvited to A Tale of Two Sisters the whole way through and call it a day. To be fair to The Uninvited, I tried my absolute best to try and distance myself from comparing it directly, because there's just no way that anyone can recapture the spirit of AToTS. It really wasn't that easy to do, trust me. I think I only really partially succeeded.


Genre: drama, horror, mystery
Directed by: Charles Guard, Thomas Guard
Produced by: Roy Lee, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes, etc.
Written by: Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Music by: Christopher Young
Running time: 87 minutes
Production company: DreamWorks SKG, Cold Spring Pictures, MacDonald/Parkes Productions, etc.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Lusomundo Audiovisuais, Karo Premiere, etc.
Country: United States, Canada, Germany
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $41,624,046 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Massar, Kevin McNulty, Jesse Moss, Dean Paul Gibson, Don S. Davis, Lex Burnham, Matthew Bristol, Danny Bristol, Heather Doerksen



Anna (Emily Browning) had been in a mental institute for the past 10 months following some pretty traumatic events in her life. Her dying mother perished in a fire which resulted in her suicide attempt. Happily for her, Dr. Silberling (Dean Paul Gibson) believes that she is ready to move on with her life. Back home, Anna is happy to see her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) but less than pleased to see Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) who at one time was her mother's nurse and now is in a relationship with her father (David Strathairn).


The Uninvited has an OK amount of creepiness in regards to its setting but nothing like what was in A Tale of Two Sisters. Oops, sorry. I'll try not to do that again. The movie is however relatively well-shot, especially when it comes to horror films.

When it comes to scares, the Guard brothers come close but never truly succeed in making The Uninvited  a scary movie. In individual scary scenes, the build up is quite nice and I found myself pretty scared. But each scene seemed to do something that ruined the effect and came off as completely silly. (Spoilers) For example, when Anna is in the boathouse for a scene, she runs into a dead version of her mother that slowly approaches her as she cowers by the window. Then the mother points and screams "MURDERER!" or "MURDER" or something. Doesn't matter because it just ruins the effect. At least have her just point instead of speak. (End Spoilers)

It's really too bad that the scares don't work out. I'd go from scared to disappointed pretty much each time there was a scary scene. Besides maybe one or two times, I'm glad to say that The Uninvited isn't littered with dumb jump scares. Throughout the whole movie, I'd say that there is only really one actually scary scene that works from start to finish. That's it. The film doesn't benefit from a truly great atmosphere or setting either, so there's not a lot more that The Uninvited has going for it.

Emily Browning does do a pretty good job as her character though. All the casting decisions are well done in fact, especially when it comes to Elizabeth Banks. Pretty much the evil step-mom, her dialogue sometimes lets her down though which isn't her fault. After all there are three scriptwriters for The Uninvited which is never a good sign.

When it comes to the story, as I thought would happen, it's been dumbed down quite a bit. The biggest of the twists is obvious from a mile away unfortunately. I'm not sure how much of that comes from having seen A Tale of Two Sisters previously but I feel like Kim Jee-woon did a way better job at hiding his twists. Unlike his film, this isn't a headscratcher of a movie. It's straightforward and to the point. The Uninvited also has some unnecessary flashbacks that are meant to help the audience understand what happened, but they're more insulting than anything else.

The Uninvited is probably a much better film for those who haven't seen A Tale of Two Sisters. Unless you don't like to be challenged, I think we can agree that AToTS packs more scares and has a better story than The Uninvited. TU isn't exactly abomination, it's just extremely disappointing. The most important aspect of a horror film is to be scary, but somehow The Uninvited failed at almost every turn.



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