A deadly battle of wills begins when Anna (Emily Browning) returns from a psychiatric hospital and investigates the circumstances surrounding her mother's suspicious and untimely death. While Anna and her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), are antagonistic and suspicious of her, their father (David Strathairn) becomes engaged to Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), her mother's former nurse, who already lives in their home. Anna's dismay quickly turns to horror when she is visited by her mother's ghost - crying out for revenge and pointing an accusing finger at Rachel. When her father refuses to heed their warnings, Anna and Alex look into Rachel's past. But nothing is at it seems in this ill fated family.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Expat Aussie writer Craig Rosenberg, who wrote and directed Hotel de Love in 1996 and After the Sunset (with Paul Zbyszewski) in 2004, ventures into totally different territory with this mystery horror thriller, my second least favourite genre - English language adaptations of Asian horror movies. My absolute least favourite genre is Asian horror movies. So, having declared my bias, you'll understand my nit-picking approach.
But first, a word about the cast, who deserve every accolade available for taking part in this piece of hokum in such good spirits (pardon the ghostly pun, but I need to entertain myself). Everyone delivers great performances, and Aussie Emily Browning, with her unique face, makes the most of the opportunity of a lead role. David Strathairn, who always oozes intelligence, decency and a dry, easy cool, plays the father to the sisters (Browning, Arielle Kebbel) and husband to the deceased wife. He is now with Rachel (Elizabeth Banks - another consummate actress) and the girls hate Rachel. They also suspect her of murdering their mother.
Thanks to a screenplay filled with fakery, we are easily convinced. Inside every big fakery there are smaller fakeries that dots the film and suggests not only manipulation (instead of clever story telling) but also carelessness. Stretches of slow action are intended to build tension; for me they build boredom, because I do not believe. Hence I do not sign on for this ride, since the filmmakers are simply hoodwinking the audience. It's like they show you an apple which turns out to be a pear. There's a place for ambiguity, but when it's down and out falsehoods that are peddled, I lose my patience. It's a great mistake for filmmakers to treat audiences like fools; en masse, they are smarter than most filmmakers.
So apart from excellent performances, there is little to recommend The Uninvited, not even great ghoulish effects.
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UNINVITED, THE (MA)
CAST: Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, Arielle Kebbel, Emily Browning, Maya Massar, Kevin McNulty, Jesse Moss
PRODUCER: Roy Lee, Laurie McDonald, Walter F. Parkes
DIRECTOR: The Guard Brothers
SCRIPT: Craig Rosenberg, Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro,
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dan Landin
EDITOR: Jim Page, Christian Wagner
MUSIC: Christopher Young
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Menzies
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures Australia
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 26, 2009