"The Uninvited begins with our protagonist, Anna, in a mental ward after dealing with the emotional trauma of losing her mother in a freak fire. As the film begins, her psychiatrist believes she is ready to go back into the real world and she is allowed to move back in with her father and her older sister, Alex. Unfortunately, father is now seeing Rachel, a nurse who was in charge of Anna's mother. This weird situation is further complicated by the fact that Anna is becoming more and more convinced that her mom wasn't killed in a freak accident...maybe she was murdered.
So if you have watched ghost movies over the last ten or so years, you basically know this film. It hits all of the major plot points, has a couple requisite twists and throws weird scares at you (it is based on a Korean film, you know). I expected all of this. I even expected one twist that I thought was revealed very early on. Even so, the ending still surprised me and I have to say that this film was classy in telling a familiar story. The truth is, there hasn't really been a genre-changing film in the ghost story genre for awhile now. The Uninvited is no different. So, what is important is not what is being told (as there's nothing new under the sun), but how it's told.
Here The Uninvited soars where a lot of recent ghost stories (Unborn, for example) have failed. The storytelling is far classier than it has any right to be, the script is well-written and convincing and the actors are terrific. Emily Browning, playing Anna, practically carries the weight of the film on her slender shoulders. With her forlorn and innocent gaze, you really start to feel for her increasingly desperate plight. Meanwhile, her sister is played perfectly by Arielle Kebbel who brings a sexy older sibling charm to the proceedings. And then there's Elizabeth Banks, playing the stepmother who might not be all she says she is.
All of this is pitted against a murder mystery or two and wrapped up in a perfect bow. There's not a dull moment in the film, the scares actually startled me, even when I expected them and some of the ghostly hauntings could give the weird factor of The Grudge/Ring a run for their money. It's effective and very well done.
I definitely recommend going to see it. The Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters, is definitely in my scope now, to see how it stacks up. Go see The Uninvited if you're in the mood for a fun, classy and, yes, sometimes scary ghost story."
Quite the suprise I actually liked it a lot, but not as good
Dave. K | Staten Island, Ny | 04/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
**** Out of 5
Release Date- January 30th, 2009
Running Time- 87-Minutes
Screenplay- Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard
Director- Charles & Thomas Guard
Starring- Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Banks
In many ways this decade is sort of the 80s in reverse; it seemed like back in the 80s every horror flick was a sequel and now it seems every horror flick is a remake. Both have the same basic idea and that's to cash in on the success of the original only with a remake it starts things over. Most of the recent remakes haven't been very good and others were alright; Dawn of the Dead was one of the few that were actually really good. But remakes of Asian horror flicks always seem to turn out horrible or just below average. You have the downright pathetic One Missed Call and slightly below average The Grudge and The Eye, which was an average movie, but sadly was probably the best remake of an Asian horror flick. Well that was until The Uninvited, which was actually a pretty good movie.
The Uninvited is a remake of the South Korean masterpiece A Tale of Two Sisters, which was written and directed by Ji-woon Kim. When I first heard of the remake I wasn't really too excited seeing as A Tale of Two Sisters is one of my all time favorite horror flicks and since the track record for Asian horror movies remade in the States have turned out awful my expectations were very low. The trailer looked fairly decent and so I decided to give it a chance. First up bottom line is The Uninvited is far inferior to A Tale of Two Sisters, but with that said I really liked The Uninvited. I feel there is always a different direction you can take a movie. That doesn't mean a different direction would be better, but there is more than one way to tell a story.
The Uninvited takes the basic concept of A Tale of Two Sisters, but also goes in a slightly different direction therefore at least it's not a shot for shot remake, but doesn't stray to where it has nothing to do with the movie it's based on. Some of the different directions this movie took doesn't always work, but it remains interesting. Like the original version The Uninvited is a mixture of a drama and mystery with horror elements. Sometimes the mixture doesn't always work, but it worked brilliantly in A Tale of Two Sisters and while it doesn't work as well it still works in The Uninvited.
The screenplay by Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro & Carlo Bernard is surprisingly well written. The characters are well developed and actually interesting as well. Like the original the core of the story is about the two sisters and like the original the relationship between two works very well and feels real and not forced. Some of the new ideas like ghostly visions while not bad feels too much like your run of the mill ghost flick something A Tale of Two Sisters wasn't. But this new element does mostly work overall. The screenplay keeps the basic idea of the original, but has enough going for it to keep it from being a rehash. While the script isn't much deliver a by the books horror flick, but it still works even if clichéd. There is some decent suspense and tension and they handle the dramatic scenes well and deliver some decent suspense.
Directors Charles & Thomas Guard never reach the epic heights Ji-woon Kim reached, but they still deliver a solid movie. Most of the big scare scenes are done pretty much the way it was done in the original so if you've seen that it won't work as well here. But the pacing is slow, but steady and the movie never fails to be interesting. Again The Guard Brothers may not reach the level of greatness Ji-woon Kim did, but they deliver a solid movie that turns out better than maybe it should have.
I'd say the strongest aspect of The Uninvited were the actors; Elizabeth Banks is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses and once again Banks delivers a great performance and it also doesn't hurt that she's very easy on the eyes. David Strathairn is slightly underused as the father torn between his daughters and girlfriend, but he delivers an excellent performance. But it's Emily Browning as Anna and Arielle Kebbel as Alex that really elevate The Uninvited.
Browning and Kebbel really work amazing together and both deliver excellent performances; this was Arielle Kebbel's best performance to date and she's an actress with a lot of potential, but it's Emily Browning who is clearly the standout with an excellent and sympathetic performance. As long as she picks the right roles she can go far in her career. But again both Browning and Kebbel are excellent and really cute as well so that helps as well.
Due to the fact we are in what seems remake hell sadly The Uninvited might get dismissed as yet another pointless remake of a truly amazing film and while I cannot argue that The Uninvited is a pointless remake it was actually really good and better than most of the recent remakes to come along. Don't let the PG-13 rating scare you off as a movie like this doesn't need an R-rating. Had this been R-rated it wouldn't have made the movie any better. The violence level is low, but there is a little bit of blood, but not much obviously. The Uninvited is a prime example how PG-13 doesn't have to mean bad.
The twist in The Uninvited doesn't work as well as it did in the original, but it doesn't follow it exactly. It does offer its own twist on the twist and while it worked well it's s not as strong as A Tale of Two Sisters. Bottom line is The Uninvited isn't as good as the original movie it's based on, but with that said it was actually pretty good and hopefully other fans of A Tale of Two Sisters gives The Uninvited a fair shot.
As for the Blu-ray release the picture quality is very sharp and looks excellent in HD and the sound is also solid as well, but the disc lacks with extras. There is an 18-min behind the scenes feature (watch it after the movie some spoilers) deleted scenes and an alternate ending. All the extras are also on the DVD, but the good thing is the features on the Blu-ray are all in HD. Sometimes the features are SD, but not here. I don't know if this movie is popular enough to warrant another edition, but you never know."
N. Durham | Philadelphia, PA | 06/07/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As far as PG-13 rated remakes of Asian horror films go, you could do a whole lot worse than what you find with The Uninvited. That is, until you actually hold it up to the film that it was remade from, the Korean horror smash A Tale of Two Sisters. Emily Browning stars as Anna, a teenage girl who returns home from a stay in a mental institution, and along with her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) come to distrust and suspect that their father's (David Strathairn) new girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), who was the former nurse for their ailing mother, played a role in their mother's fiery demise. There's a good amount of gloomy atmosphere to find in The Uninvited, and even some twists as well, but none of which that amounts to a whole lot compared to what's found in A Tale of Two Sisters, which is far, far superior in terms of shocks and a dynamite ending. The scares here are predictable and, well, unscary to say the least, and it's hard to decide who comes off as creepier, Browning or Banks. Other than having Arielle Kebbel in a bikini, there isn't a whole lot to really recommend The Uninvited. While it isn't as terrible as PG-13 rated Asian horror remakes usually tend to be, in the end you're better off checking out the original film it is remade from if you want to see a truly haunting, psychological, and truly scary horror flick."
Video Game History | United States | 05/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't fool yourself... The Uninvited is a well shot and supremely paced film.... I highly recommend that you check it out. Superb performances and top notch cinematography are paramount to this review....
My highest recommendation... 5 stars...."
Buy "A Tale of Two Sisters"
S. P. Miskowski | West Coast, US | 05/24/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Following a tragic fire and a stay in a mental institution, teenage Anna (Emily Browning) returns home to find her widowed father (David Strathairn) preparing to remarry. His love interest is the nurse (Elizabeth Banks) hired to care for Anna's now deceased mother.
Anna joins forces with her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) to try and dislodge the nurse. As they ask more questions about the fire that claimed their mother's life, the girls become convinced that the nurse is not who she says she is. But proving this to their father seems impossible, for he regards them warily and seems to believe everything he hears from their stepmother-to-be.
The Uninvited is a remake of the Korean horror film Janghwa, Hongryeon (released here as A Tale of Two Sisters) directed and written by Kim Ji-woon. The original was only released in 2003, and is superior in every way to the Hollywood version. In fact, the Korean version is so beautiful and the English language adaptation is so awful, the comparison calls for an accompanying rant on the very practice of adapting recent foreign hits for American audiences.
It's great to see artists of the caliber of Kim Ji-woon being paid for the rights to their work. If only the people buying those rights would honor what they buy. What is the point of remaking a film with a devoted following, and distorting or throwing out every element that excited fans and critics about that work? Wouldn't it be better to have a U.S. distributor re-market the original with the aim of making it more popular? It seems to me that the expectation of American audiences is dismally low in Hollywood. Or is it pure xenophobia that makes the majority of our film producers believe anything good still ought to be re-titled, re-focused, and given a Western cast?
Leaving the general social attitude and getting back to The Uninvited, the problem with adaptation is demonstrated perfectly in the DVD extras. There the film's directors and producers talk about why they were drawn to the project. The directors praise their favorite Korean horror films for their emotion and ambiguity. The producers also note the ambiguity of the original, and then go on to explain how they and the writers systematically did away with that ambiguity, because it was confusing and made the story "hard to follow."
In other words, they were not bright enough to understand or interpret the original to their satisfaction, so they made it simpler and more stupid, for the rest of us. Unfortunately, all of the changes made to A Tale of Two Sisters turned The Uninvited into just another cheap ghost flick sprinkled with teen angst. "