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The Uninvited


None February 5th, 2009

uninvited

You won't confuse this new thriller with the ghost movie "The Uninvited" from 1944 for two reasons: 1) The older film wasn't a remake of a superb Korean film, and 2) the one from 1944 was creepy.

In this one "” a remake of 2003's acclaimed South Korean thriller "A Tale of Two Sisters" "” Emily Browning ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events") stars as Anna, a young woman who is returning home after spending 10 months in a mental hospital. She's attempting to get over the death of her mother in an accidental fire. Her writer father  (David Strathairn, "The Spiderwick Chronicles") meets her, and drives her back to the place where the accident took place. There, Anna is met by her mother's former nurse, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks "Role Models," "W"), who is Dad's new girlfriend, and by Anna's sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel, "The Grudge 2").

Soon, the sisters' Freudian dislike of Rachael leads them to suspect that the nurse was responsible for Mom's death. When Anna begins seeing the ghosts of three children murdered 15 years ago by a nanny who harbored an obsession for the father of the kids, she and Alex become convinced that Rachael is the nanny returned. Why a multiple murderer of children would return to the scene of the crime and try it again on another family is not discussed.

PSYCHO KILLER STORY
From watching the film's trailer, determining if this one is a ghost story, a psycho killer story, or the fabrication of a crazy young woman is next to impossible. Unfortunately, letting you in on the secret would spoil what little suspense the movie generates. I suspect that if you've never seen a movie like this, or read anything that uses the same gimmicks, you might think that this one is a humdinger. If, however, you are a jaded old hand at this kind of claptrap, the picture will hold no interest for you.

The acting is pretty good and Browning, Banks and Strathairn have three of the most interesting faces in Hollywood. Banks is an especially watchable up-and-comer right now. She was also in "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," and no less than a dozen high-profile projects during the last decade. Strathairn is an excellent character actor with a recent Oscar nomination to his credit, for "Good Night, and Good Luck."

This picture is directed by siblings Charles and Thomas Guard, and based on "Janghwa, Hongryeon" ("A Tale of Two Sisters"), written and directed by Ji-Woon Kim. Broken-record time, but yes, the original is far and away the better movie "” it's more thoughtful, it's scarier and it's even more beautiful. The Guard brothers have tried something different in retaining the Asian element in some of the ghosts' appearances, and although they manage some of the original's eeriness, the combination of Maine and Korea just doesn't work.

The most fun to be had from "The Uninvited" is thrashing out the ending and arguing about whether or not the movie cheats in keeping its secrets. I don't think it does, but then I think the secret is one the filmmakers may not have considered. Ask me about it sometime.

"”Doug Bentin

 
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