I realize I’m repeating myself, but if Hollywood would stop remaking Korean horror films, I wouldn’t have to.
“The Uninvited” is indeed a remake, this time of the Korean film “A Tale of Two Sisters”, or originally titled “Janghwa, Hongryeon” in Korea. In this American version, Anna comes home from being in a mental institution for 10 months following the abrupt death of her dying mother. Yes, her mom was dying of a terminal illness, but she died in a gas explosion. When it rains, right? So, while Anna was away, her father (David Strathairn) moved her mother’s nurse into the house because they started a relationship. Well, started screwing, really. Then the relationship part happened. You know how it is.
So, Anna comes home to this surprise and Anna’s sister and best friend, Alex, is none too pleased either. They lean on each other, even when Anna starts hearing things and worse, seeing things. Among them are some creepy dead kids and her own mother in the little guest cottage out back where she died, pointing at the main house and screaming “Murderer!” Anna, already a bit leery of her Dad’s girlfriend, Rachael, takes this as a sign (and who wouldn’t) that Rachael killed her mother and suspects she and her sister may be next. Well, there were some other factors, too, such as some things Anna and Alex find during a very informative internet search. Seems to me, a little Police ingenuity and a really good Google search and every criminal can be caught without difficulty. Let’s get on that. Anna’s ghostly visitations increase, she wonders if she’s just seeing things, decides she isn’t, then the plot thickens.
I’ll be honest, at one point I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen. And in fact, I was right – but only partially. So just when I’m about to roll my eyes at the conclusion, I’m actually surprised at the last scene. Pleasantly surprised. And that is something I most certainly did not expect.
The acting in this was good – also surprising. I mean, I expect good work from David Strathairn, and even Elizabeth Banks who plays Rachael. But the girls that play the sisters Anna (Emily Browning) and Alex (Arielle Kebbel) are actually good, too. Although, Strathairn is relegated to sort of a two-dimensional character, it’s not his fault. The father doesn’t really have a huge role here.
There are some good scares and creepy moments. It’s sure to get some audiences going. Yet it’s more of a spooky mystery that isn’t a mystery. But it is. You know? No, I didn’t either. And that’s the point, I guess. See, if it weren’t for the very last scene, this probably wouldn’t have been as good. It would have been too predictable because it borrows from another movie I won’t mention. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you, right?
I haven’t seen the original Korean version of this so I can’t compare it. But I can imagine, considering the original is about 115 minutes long, while this version is only about 87 minutes. Clearly this is stream-lined and I’m sure they stripped much of the mood and delicate detail that is most likely in the original. In America, we like things fast; get right to the point in our horror. None of that wasting time creating fully developed characters or cultivating a real sense of mood and such. That’s for people who say “film” instead of “movie”.
But again, the last scene came unexpected and may have saved the movie for me. And looking back, I haven’t found any plot holes that need filling. This won’t win any awards, but it is a step above the usual horror crap being churned out. If you have to choose a matinee of this movie or “The Unborn”, definitely go see this.
–Neil T. Weakley, you average movie-goer, really glad there was one more scene in this.