DreamWorks // 2009 // 87 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 1st, 2009
Fear moves in.
One of those "Boy the trailer sure made this movie look wicked scary!" releases hits DVD and you're guaranteed at least three scenes of ghosts walking around all weird-like.
Anna has recently gotten out of a mental ward, after struggling to get past the death of her mother. When she arrives back home, she's stunned to see her beloved father (David Strathairn) shacking up with Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), her mom's former direct care worker. Neither Anna nor her older sister Alex think much of this intruder and some spunky sleuthing on their part reveals Rachel isn't who she says she is.
Add to that, Anna has been seeing horrifying visions as of late, including her mother, a creepy little girl (shocker), and her boyfriend with his spinal column wrapped around his colon.
This wasn't what I was expecting. As I recall, the commercials and trailers for The Uninvited stressed the ghost scenes but those make up a very small portion of the runtime. Less a shocker that relies on jump scenes and visual scares and more a straightforward psychological terror trip with just a touch of the supernatural, the film elicits its unease through a confounding central mystery and a memorable villain. There is, as well, the requisite surprise ending, which you will not be terribly surprised by, though props to the guys behind the camera for revealing it well.
That being said, is it any good? Yeah, I would recommend it as a Friday night popcorn muncher. It's not really scary, certainly not leap-out-of-the-couch-spewing-whatever-soft-drink-you-happened-to-be-slurping-at-the-time frightening, but you and your significant other should have a relatively tense time with the lights off. Once the end credits roll, you might talk a bit about the ending, but that should be about it. The experience will likely not stick with you.
The Uninvited is a slick-looking affair and directors the Guard Brothers know how to put together a mystery that exists solely to build towards the twist ending. Again, I have no doubt you'll be able to arrive at the big reveal using your thinking cap (I honestly believe that nearly all of the shocking twist endings have already been used), though it is an engaging trek to the climax.
Performances are about par for the course, with David Strathairn going to waste. It was a kick to see Elizabeth Banks -- normally the bubbly comic relief in most other movies -- do a dark, sneering turn. As the lead Emily Browning is fine, despite having the thankless job of exposition vehicle.
DreamWorks put together a solid release, giving the film an attractive and clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a crisp 5.1 surround mix (English, French, and Spanish). Extras: a making-of featurette, a handful of tepid deleted scenes, and a lousy alternate ending.
The Uninvited is good enough for a thriller fix, but I'm not seeing it as a permanent resident on my DVD shelf.
Knock knock. Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted Scenes