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Movie Review - 'The Uninvited'

Starring Emily Browning, David Straithairn, and Elizabeth Banks
Directed by The Guard Brothers
Rated PG-13
Remakes of Asian horror movies and supernatural thrillers have polluted movie theaters based on the commercial and critical success of one film: The Ring.
Since 2003, we’ve been subjected to The Grudge, Shutter, Alone, One Missed Call, Mirrors, The Eye, Dark Water, and, well, you get the point. None of them have built on what The Ring created, an overwhelming sense of creepy dread dressed in the clothes of a slick American suspense flick.
How can this genre still be around after all its sophomore, junior, senior, graduate, and post-graduate slumps?

There is life in its newest entry, The Uninvited, but you have to wait 75 minutes to find the pulse. This remake is based on the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters and is directed by Charles and Anthony Guard, billed here as The Guard Brothers, as if their last name is really Coen.

Troubled teen Anna (Emily Browning from Lemony Snicket) saw her invalid mother die in house fire and when we meet her a year later, she is explaining her recurring nightmares to a psychiatrist. It's not an outpatient arrangement, it turns out, but ten months after she arrived, Anna is free to go home with her father (David Straithairn) and try to put one foot in front of the other again.
The haunting images don't go away at home, but nothing haunts her as much as her father’s new girlfriend – and her mother’s one-time nurse – Rachael (Elizabeth Banks). Anna suspects Rachael set the fire, and believes she is now out to horn in on her dad’s money at any cost, even if it means more murders.

The Uninvited is like a sloppy heavyweight fight that ends with a 12th round TKO. There is a knockout punch, but far too late to make the match itself very interesting. It does, however, make this better than some of its genre cousins. Choosing Elizabeth Banks for this role might have been a mistake; she is too likable in general to accept as the source of all of this evil.
I sense that what the Guards were attempting to do was make us leap before we looked. There are plenty of directions this film could have gone, but the entire impact is influenced by the ending. The goal of the first hour-plus is to get you to commit to your own solution. I don't find it fun to try out-thinking movies, because I don't believe real stories try to out-think anyone or throw people for a loop as they naturally occur.
Beyond the slight miscasting of Banks and the phony reveals that pop up along the way, if you’re one of the few remaining believers in this genre, there’s some light in the darkness.


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