Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
4

Movies Review

The Uninvited

By
The Uninvited
Directors: The Guard Brothers
Screenwriters: Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Starring: Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn
Running time: 87 mins
Certificate: 15

The general rule of thumb for Hollywood remakes of Asian horror hits is that they are either middle-of-the-road (The Grudge) or downright awful (The Eye). The newest definitive article-utilising arrival is The Uninvited, a rejig of South Korean ghost story A Tale of Two Sisters that falls into the former category. It may not have the imagination and inventiveness to be considered a classic, but it possesses enough gear shifts, mystery and popcorn-propelling jump moments to satisfy those in search of a Friday night fright.

When shy teen Anna (Browning) returns home after a stint at a mental institution, she and her older sister Alex (Kebbel) are faced with the unappealing prospect of living with their father and his new girlfriend Rachel (Banks). As if the nightly sex moans didn't make things uncomfortable enough for the sisters, Rachel, who nursed the girls' mother until the latter's death in a boathouse fire, is a constant reminder of happier times. With the ghostly spectre of her dead mother still in the house (signified by the ringing of the bell she wore when she was sick), Anna begins to investigate Rachel's past and discovers that this Stepford Wife from hell may have a history of tearing apart families and moving in on the rich patriarch.

With a tricksy storyline that's constantly wrong-footing the audience, Brit debutantes The Guard Brothers win no prizes for originality, walking the path trodden by classier ghost horrors The Sixth Sense and The Others. Pulling the rug from under the viewer is a dangerous game, but the filmmakers have no qualms about doing so and this Scooby-Doo hoodwinking will no doubt infuriate some by the time the end credits roll.

The relationship between the three women is the film's focal point, with Banks giving an astute turn as the wicked temptress stepmum. Browning, whose elfin features give her the appearance of someone much younger than her 20 years, makes a good fist of playing a character whose determination is undercut by people's doubts about her sanity. It's Kebbel, though, spending the majority of the film parading around in a bikini, who steals the show with charisma, humour and that ubiquitous pinch of teen snark.

Where The Uninvited works is in creating tension and The Guards prove capable advocates of psychological suspense and bump-in-the-night shocks. There are obvious moments of inspiration from The Shining: an aerial shot of a car snaking through country roads, a secluded setting and a protagonist whose state of mind is in question. Unlike Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, though, the drive here is on the lead character's frantic mission to piece together a murder and not their own mental disintegration. The Uninvited is workmanlike and has a twist too many, but it's always entertaining and kept afloat by three game leading ladies and competent hands behind the camera.


> What do you think of the movie? Share your views

You May Like

Comments

Loading...