The Uninvited

The Uninvited movie poster
MPAA rating: PG-13
Genre: Horror
After a stay in a psychiatric facility, Anna (Emily Browning) returns home to her father's evil fiancee and the presence of her mother's ghost.
Starring: Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn
Director: Charles Guard, Thomas Guard
Running time: 1:27
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Editorial Review

Toward the end of a screening of "The Uninvited," when things are getting nasty and bloody, most of the audience was laughing.

About half were the good, nervous sharp laughs of people who were really into a well-made, handsome horror picture. The other half of the crowd was laughing because it had figured out a key part of the story about an hour earlier. All of them seemed to be enjoying themselves.

This remake of the Korean "A Tale of Two Sisters" begins with teenage Anna (Emily Browning) in a mental institution. She can't get over dreams of the fire that killed her mother 10 months before, and she's troubled by visions of a creepy red-haired girl. Even so, her kindly shrink says it's time for her to go home. Home, in this case, is a stunning seaside mansion.

There she finds that her father (David Strathairn), a famous writer, has set up housekeeping with Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), the nurse who had been tending to Mom. Anna's smart-alecky older sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), is just disgusted by the whole thing. Soon the girls come to suspect that Rachel killed their mother.

The performances are fine. Browning looks nothing like the girl who starred in "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," and she's believably confused throughout. First-time directors Thomas and Charles Guard give the action a glossy polish and a properly measured pace. They also maintain the right narrative balance. Is Anna the victim of an archetypal wicked stepmother, or is she unstable?

Experienced horror fans will probably stay one step ahead of the game, but it's still a nice ride.

-- Mike Mayo(Jan. 30, 2009)

Contains frightening images, language and sexual content.