Anna Rydell returns home to her sister (and best friend) Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home.
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A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
After the death of her ill mother in a fire, the young teenager Anna tries to commit suicide and is sent to a mental institution for treatment. Ten months later, Anna still cannot remember what had happened on the night her mother died. Her psychiatric Dr. Silberling, however, discharges her telling that she has resolved her issues. Her father and successful writer, Steven, brings her back home in an isolated mansion nearby the coast. Anna finds that her mother's former nurse, Rachel Summers, is her stepmother now. Anna meets her beloved sister, Alex, swimming in the sea. She discovers that Steven has not delivered the letters and CDs that Alex had sent to her. As time moves on, Anna is haunted by ghosts and she believes that Rachel killed her mother. Alex and Anna decide to look for evidences to prove that Rachel is the murderer and Anna discovers the truth about the fire in the boat house. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The character of Anna is meant to be 14-15 years old during the film's plot. However, Emily Browning was 18 years old at the time of filming. See more »
When Alex and Anna are looking online for information about the Wright children murders, they come across an article which ran in a local paper about the event. The story mentions that the children were apparently "heavilly" (incorrectly spelled) drugged when they were killed. See more »
I love you. And I have a condom.
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Better than expected, but far too content at being above average
After being cleared for release from a mental hospital, Anna (Emily Browning) returns home to her writer father Steven (David Strathairn) and sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel). In her absence, Emily's father has grown closer to her late mother's former caretaker Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). Anna is continually hallucinating and seeing her dead mother, insisting that her death was not an accident and that Rachel had something to do with it. With this in mind, she sets out with Alex to prove Rachel is not everything she seems.
I did not expect much from The Uninvited, but surprisingly, I received a lot more than I expected.
Despite being an American remake of the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited does enough to make it stand out on its own. I never saw the original film, but I imagine it looked different than this film does. It is dark and atmospheric from the very beginning, and continues on the same wavelength to the very end of the film. It frequently blends horror with psychological terror, developing a movie that could have easily been a throwaway scare-flick for pre-teens to scream through, but ends up being a fairly accomplished film. This is not a film anywhere near the quality of the greatness found in the likes of The Silence of the Lambs, but it is a film that was not just scraped out for a profit.
The story itself, as twisty and loopy as it gets, is fairly well done. Although I was not too interested at the beginning, the film draws you in rather tightly, revealing itself quite nicely over its short 87-minute running time. Yes, there are plenty of predictable moments laced throughout the film, but there are a few moments of genuine surprise as well. The film never makes the claim that it is trying to be original, but it does a unique enough job that you can only see shades of what has come before (as opposed to a standard American horror film basically spelling out exactly what it is ripping off, or homaging sort to speak). Even with the cheap scares around every corner, it still managed to make me jump back more than once.
What does not make sense however, is how some things are explicitly stated while others are briefly alluded to. A lot of what happens is fairly obvious for even the least astute of audiences, yet the film dumbs itself down more than once to fit the conventions of 2000-era PG-13 horror. When something ambiguous comes up, it is either explained in-depth, or done away with entirely. A rather crucial character element of Anna's is revealed very close to the beginning of the film, but is never explored in any capacity. We understand her motivations and what drives her quest for the truth, but there are a few background details that even after the film concludes, still left me a bit baffled. Why explain some things that are obvious, but not bother touching on ones that are not?
Despite not having starred in a lot of things, Browning is quite good in her role as Anna. Struggling throughout the film with mental anguish and hallucinations, Browning makes this young teenage character convincing in a way only someone so young could do. She is not perfect in the role, but you can see the desperation and heartbreak in her face and her actions. This is an actress who becomes her role, and never falters out of it. She carries the film from beginning to end, and never looks the worst for it. She is a young actress I hope to continue to see more of, especially in higher fare.
Kebbel, while not as powerful as Browning, commands when she is on-screen. She works beautifully off of Browning, and makes their relationship clear and pure from their first moment together. Their chemistry makes the film as surprising as it is. It easily could have been something that was clouded over, or underplayed. But the filmmakers use every opportunity to stress the strength of the relationship of the two sisters, and their willingness to go the distance for each other. Some moments are just heartbreaking, seeing the lengths they are willing to go, but Kebbel keeps herself in check at all times, and gives a great performance.
Strathairn, despite the Oscar-nomination for Good Night, and Good Luck., seems to have fallen on being the wise older character in every movie since, and gives the same old performance here. He is good as always, but seems more mellowed down than he should be. Banks on the other hand, is completely out of her comfort zone, and her performance is an obvious reflection. In some scenes, she is downright terrifying as the evil potential stepmother, and in others, she is laughably bad. There is no middle ground, and no one seems to have been able to suggest any consistency tips for her. While she gives a decent performance anyway, it could have been stronger with a more confident actress.
But what the film is guilty of is its lack of reinvention. It is a unique piece of horror for 2009, but the film never strives to be anything bigger or better. It lacks the motivations to really make something of itself, and never even tries to be something better than it could be. The Uninvited really surprised me for how good it actually was, but surprised me more in how easily it could have been even better. A lean running time, a great pair of young actresses, and some decent supporting acting could have made this small picture quite the notorious horror flick. But instead, it seems content just being an above average run-of-the-mill psychological thriller.
(Portions of this review originally appeared on http://www.dvdfanatic.com).
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