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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
The Uninvited
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THE UNINVITED - 2009
Cold Spring Pictures / DWBC Productions / MacDonald/Parkes Productions / The Montecito Picture Company / Vertigo Entertainment / DreamWorks SKG
Rating: USA: PG-13

A young, underage girl named Anna (Emily Browning: GHOST SHIP, DARKNESS FALLS, LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS) plays kissy face on the beach with her boyfriend, Matt (Jesse Moss: GINGER SNAPS, FINAL DESTINATION 3) when he whispers those romantic words every young girl longs to hear, "I love you." Followed by the important, but hardly romantic words "... and I brought a condom."

Anna pushes Matt away and storms off, past her drunken sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel: THE GRUDGE 2, RED MIST), and walks through the woods back to her house.

Through the woods!

At Night!

Anna comes across some sacks of garbage and opens one up. Out tumbles a variety of dismembered body parts: arms, legs, a head, I didn't take a full inventory, but the shrieks from the audience were satsifying. The scene was played out quite well and then got worse! (which means, for a Horror Thriller movie, it got WAY better!)

Then it turns out that Anna is describing a dream. What does the dream mean? Well to her psychiatrist, it means that, after ten long months, Anna is all better and is ready to return home, "Kiss a boy, get in trouble, finish what you started!" The doc says.

Well, yeah doc, all well and good but still, does that dream REALLY seem healthy? I didn't dwell on this question - I'm no head shrink - but it stays with us that, despite the pudgy doc's cheerful diagnosis, young Anna's mindset might still be pretty fractured. Anna says goodbye to her hollow-eyed, looney neighbor from across the hall and rides back home with her Pop, Steven.

Dad (David Straithairn: TWISTED, FRACTURE) is glad to see his little girl, of course, and surprises her with homemade cookies. Anna munches into them right away until Pop says they were made by Rachel (Elizabeth Banks: SPIDER-MAN [all], SLITHER). Apparently there's some bad blood between Anna and Rachel.

Rachel, as it turns out, is Pop's new girlfriend and Pop is ridiculously wealthy (especially for a writer!). They live in a magnificent well-appointed mansion in the woods on such an isolated, expansive piece of property, that it is just as easy to pilot a boat to it as to drive over to it. It also has a two story guest house, which is about the size of a Hollywood mansion, on the shore, that would be comfy for a family of four - teen.

What all of this boils down to is, there will be lots of room for running and hiding soon enough!

Rachel welcomes Anna home, but the little tyke (Ha! Little tyke! Emily was 19 when she made this, but can easily pass for 12 or 13) stiffens up like a corpse. Rachel attempts to connect with Anna throughout the movie, but Anna regards Rachel with growing suspicion. And small wonder as Anna's sister Alex, fuels those suspicions by darkly telling her how much Rachel has taken over their home. Alex even tells Anna that she has to listen to her father and this much younger woman go at it three times a night. Now Steven is about the same age as the actor who plays him, David, which makes him about 60. So Wow! Three times a night? You go Steve!

Anna wants to be better, but Alex keeps poisoning her mind, turning her against Rachel, whom Alex has come to believe may have been complicit in the murder of their mother.

Granted, Mom was dying of cancer anyway, but somebody blew up the dockhouse (rebuilt during Anna's stay at the Funny Farm), killing Mom.

And there is something rather creepy with how Rachel always seems to be hovering around whenever Anna and Alex are talking, or whenever Anna and her Father are talking. And of course, there's that ghostly redhaired little girl with her two brothers. In short, I can think of far better places for a young girl to get her head together than a vast, largely empty mansion.

THE UNINVITED plays on two levels, both as a murder mystery and a Ghost story. Something blew up that dockhouse, killing their dying Mother (Maya Massar), and yes, it MAY have been a faulty fuel tank, as filed in the police report. But what if it was all the machinations of creepy Rachel, who has such a strong sexual hold on Pop? Is Rachel, who came to the family to help take care of their bed-ridden Mother, really who she says she is? Of course, Rachel has a dour opinion of Alex too.

The Cat and Mouse between Anna and Rachel is tight. Kudos to directors The Guard Bros. (Charles and Thomas), who made nothing but a handful of short films prior to taking on this, their first feature film. The direction, cinematic eye and camera work is amazingly masterful without grandstanding tricks (zooms on the foreground actress while the background zooms away - to denote a terror or awesome revelation - that kind of thing). As far as I could tell, the SFX were kept to a minimum with no noticable cgi varmints. The Guard Bros. came to tell a scary story, not a ham-handed SFX mop-job. THE UNINVITED is a U.S. remake of Ji-Woon Kim's A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. The script was Americanized by Craig Rosenberg (HALF LIGHT), and the writing team of Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard.

Kudos also to editors Jim Page (THE SALTON SEA, DISTURBIA) and Christian Wagner (THE AMITYVILLE HORROR [2005], THE ISLAND, NEXT) for maintaining the deceptively languid pace that abruptly snaps at the audience in all of the right places and moments.

Also, I have to mention Cinematographer Dan Landin, another first timer for a feature film. His eye for imagery draws comparisons to Stanley Kubrick, without appearing to be imitative. Landin makes the most of the Canadian landscape of British Columbia, with a view that is equally at home in the daylight or night, exterior or interior. A couple of night shots were obviously day shots with a blue lens or digital rendering. That distracted me, knocked me out of the picture. With so much good camera work before and after, I was left wondering if they ran out of budget, but I was soon drawn back in.

What's more, none of the producers,
Sofa King of the Foreign to U.S. remakes, Roy Lee (THE RING [all - U.S.], THE GRUDGE [all - U.S.], DARK WATER [U.S.], THE INVASION, THE EYE [U.S.], THE SHUTTER [U.S.], THE STRANGERS, QUARANTINE),
Laurie MacDonald (MEN IN BLACK [all], THE RING [all - U.S.], LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, THE ISLAND, SWEENY TODD),
Walter F. Parkes (everything with Laurie MacDonald plus MINORITY REPORT),
saw fit to cram THE UNINVITED with a bunch of money-losing Hollywood stereotypes and cliches. In characterization and scene development, there were none to be found. This is always good but especially for a movie like THE UNINVITED, which can only work with the human drama of its four main characters at the fore. The believability and reality of the sisters, their father, and the ersatz Mother figure, would have crashed and burned with Kevin Williamson style, soap-snarky teens, which Hollywood has embraced to their money hemmoraghing detriment for the last 15 years. Kevin was making a mocking, ironic point with movies like SCREAM and THE FACULTY (and he even had characters IN his stories who pointed-that-out! -Totally lost on all of the imitators who tried to cut and paste Kevin's style on every teen Horror Thriller movie that has come after - which was exactly Kevin's point).

THE UNINVITED is a precise timepiece of Horror, Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense that delivers it all without feeling slick or packaged. If you haven't seen the original, you're going to love the ending. This one has scary surprises, gang!

4 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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MOVIE TRIVIA
THE UNINVITED
is an American remake of the 2003 Korean film,
It is not a remake and has nothing to do with It also has nothing to do with It certainly has nothing to do with the Korean And don't even THINK it has anything to do with
THE UNINVITED
from 2002,
THE UNINVITED
from 1999,
or the 1997 SciFi super Creepy UK TV show,
THE UNINVITED,
or
THE UNINVITED
from 1993,
THE UNINVITED
from 1969,
or 1944's
THE UNINVITED
starring Ray Milland.
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
by Writer and Director Ji-Woon Kim (3 EXTREMES II). This movie is WELL worth watching, but can be difficult to find.
THE UNINVITED from 2008 (to be released April 14 on DVD in the U.S.), starring Marguerite Moreau (QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, FIRESTARTER 2) and Donna W. Scott (IDLE HANDS), which, interestingly enough, has the same plot about a young girl released from a mental ward, and haunted by her nightmarish past. THE UNINVITED,
also from 2008, which shares part of the same back story with the mother dying in a horrific accident, the Pop falling apart, and the one child who tries to figure it all out.
THE UNINVITED
from 2003, which also features ghostly children trying to tell the main character someTHING.
So when renting this movie make absolutely SURE you have the right one. Be CAREFUL!

 

BOOK TRIVIA
Do you like to read novels based on movies? Or read the novel that the movie was based upon?
Well just be CAREFUL DAMMIT!

Because the movie of this review has nothing to do with the 2009 novel or the 2008 novel or the 2007 novel or the other 2007 novel, or the 2001 novel
THE UNINVITED
(
to be released May 12 of this year) by Tim Wynne-Jones,
THE UNINVITED
(
"based" on a true story. HA! Right!) by Steven A. LaChance,
UNINVITED
by Justine Musk,
THE UNINVITED
by Amanda Marrone,
THE UNINVITED
by Nina Mandelik

and has Nothing to do with the 1947 novel byDorothy MacCardle.

If, despite my warnings, you aren't careful and spend your money on the wrong thing well, Don't Come Crying To
ME!

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THE UNINVITED
is an American remake of the 2003 Korean film,


A TALE OF TWO SISTERS

 

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