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The Uninvited (2009)

A movie directed by Charles Guard and Thomas Guard

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2 ½+ Stars: Re-Imagining of Kim Jee-Woon's Fantastic "A Tale of Two Sisters" Falls a Little Flat

  • May 9, 2009

Produced by remake king Roy Lee and directed by Charles and Thomas Guard, "The Uninvited" is a remake of Kim Ji-Woon's South Korean blockbuster hit "A Tale of Two Sisters". Well, actually this film is more of a re-imagining of the Korean horror film; it does have the original's main concept, throws in a few iconic sequences from the original, but has an entirely different premise. Let's get right to the point, "The Uninvited" is VASTLY inferior to its South Korean counterpart, but would provoke curiosity from the original's fans (as I am).

Released from a mental institution after a suicide attempt, Anna (Emily Browning) hopes for a happy reunion with her sister, Alex (hottie Arielle Kebbel, John Tucker Must Die) and their father Stephen (David Strathairn). She finds that her dad is currently making whoopee with their deceased mom's former nurse, Rachel (sexy Elizabeth Banks, Slither) and this relationship may indeed stand in the way of her family's happiness.

I loved the Korean original and that would be my standpoint in this review. I will try to stick along the reins of this film, since this film is no comparison. "A Tale of Two Sisters" (see my review) had certain thought-provoking elements and gave a very mind-bending cinematic experience. The original was meticulously executed, brilliant and is ANYTHING but conventional. This "Americanization" is your basic Hollywood offering, very routine and offers little surprises. I do have to give some credit to the directors since it avoided another shot-for-shot remake, too bad the end result is a little dry. No wonder that American Horror has fallen in popularity the past few years. It takes a supreme effort for me to even remember a real great serving of Hollywood horror.

The screenplay in this film is a little too routine and telegraphs its punches too soon even for those who never saw the original. The clues to the mystery were very obvious especially to the experienced movie watcher. Thrills and scares will always have to contain emotions, the viewer has to form even the smallest amount of attachment so the characters would feel real and a script can grab its audience. "The Uninvited" tries but falters, its build ups to its suspenseful moments feel uninspired and its dialogue a little sour. The film does try to become a "crisis of conscience" emotional struggle in a way, and mixes in a few supernatural elements along the way; the problem is, it just couldn't achieve an engagement to its plot.

The puzzle pieces were very predictable and was uninspired. It fumbles through its exposition of its mystery with very obvious clues that even a teenager can spot. It was fairly obvious that the direction was struggling a little midway through the film, the Brothers Guard kept relying on the usual conventions of Asian horror such as creepy ghost children, mild ghoulish images, a mystery and the critical ingredient; a surprise twist in the climax. I guess the plot did set its groundwork which is why I didn't hate the film, but it was very routine. The usual plot mechanics are omnipresent in the film.

Elizabeth Banks is one very attractive lady, she is quite distracting to look at. Banks is a decent actress, but she was burdened by the script to maintain a creepy, intense presence that she was almost reduced to a cheap villainess. Emily Browning did the best she could given the limitations of the screenplay, but even divine intervention couldn't save the film. Browning is a talented actress, and the poor girl is just lost in the limitations of the script. Arielle Kebbel makes for good eye candy and I tolerated her somewhat unconvincing portrayal, but I feel that she failed to form a unique kind of chemistry with Browning as with their Korean original counterparts.

Although disappointing, "The Uninvited" is still decent compared to other servings of Asian Horror remakes. This is a masterpiece compared to the remakes of "Shutter" and "One Missed Call". It suffers quite a bit with its lack of suspense and its attempts to generate tension proved very lackluster. One redeeming quality is its twist at the climax, it wasn't as brilliant as the one in the original, but at least it set its groundwork so it didn't feel like a throw-away detail. Unfortunately the journey between its beginning and its last act does feel very dull. It just played its aces too soon that it all felt rudimentary. I wouldn't really advise to see this film unless you're very curious as to how the magnificent "A Tale of Two Sisters" get "Americanized".

RENT IT. [2 ½+ Stars]



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March 30, 2011
These remakes are never as good.
May 09, 2009
Am familiar with the Korean film but didn't know if I wanted to see this one or not. After reading your review, i think I will stick the far superior & less inferior original.
May 09, 2009
yeh. I was curious with this one since I'm a fan of Liz Banks. The original is one helluva film, this film is no comparison.
May 12, 2009
I do like the original. In fact, I own a copy of the Korean classic. I think I will skip it also.
More The Uninvited (2009) reviews
review by . June 23, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
There are many reasons to like The Uninvited. For the most part, the acting is superior to the average J-Horror remake: Emily Browning is very good and I remember her from Lemony Snickets - I'm sure she'll be a major star in the coming years. Elizabeth Banks is also great (Meet Bill was hysterical, by the way).  As a 'horror', there are very few CGI/sudden effects that either kill the plausibility or become too graphically unpleasant. I liked the tone and pace of the story, …
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About this movie


The china-doll features of Emily Browning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) are the eerie center ofThe Uninvited, an American remake of the wildly popular Korean horror filmA Tale of Two Sisters. Browning stars as Anna, a young girl being released from a mental hospital following the harrowing death of her mother. But when she returns home, she discovers her father (David Strathairn) has fallen under the sexual spell of her mother's former nurse, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks,Zack and Miri Make a Porno), despite the open hostility of Anna's sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel,John Tucker Must Die). When Anna sees the ghost of her mother point at Rachael and scream "Murder!", Anna and Alex begin to investigate Rachael's past and make some unsettling discoveries.The Uninvitedcombines two horror trends: Twist endings (in this case, more than one) and recycling Asian horror images (particularly wet, crawling corpses). There's nothing particularly outstanding aboutThe Uninvited, but it's superior to more lackluster Asian horror remakes likeOne Missed Call. The three lead actresses all have strangely glossy faces that look molded out of plastic, which adds a perhaps unintentional layer of creepiness.--Bret Fetzer

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Genre: Drama, Horror
Release Date: February 1st, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
Runtime: 87 minutes
Studio: Dreamworks Video
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