Movie Review – The Uninvited
THE UNINVITED – Scary Sister Act
Directed by The Guard Brothers
Starring Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks
[originally published in X-Press Magazine]
Genre films are like flavours; while it is possible to acquire new tastes, there’s probably little that can be done in this review to convince you to see a horror film if you aren’t already a fan of paying for the privilege of being scared in the safety of a cinema.
But if you are, The Uninvited has a few subtleties to make your taste buds, neck and scalp tingle. It’s always hard to adjust to a new step-parent, but it’s a bit harder for Anna (Browning), who has just been released from some quality time in a mental hospital after witnessing the surprise death of her terminally ill mother in an exploding boathouse.
Although glad to be reunited with her defiant and moody older sister Alex (Kebbel), the discovery that her father, Steven (Strathairn), is now openly involved with her mother’s young hospice nurse Rachael (Banks) soon has Anna searching for the truth behind her repressed memories of the night of the explosion.
Given the success of The Ring and The Grudge, it’s no surprise that the producers would turn again to the Orient for their next serve of supernatural thrills and chills with The Uninvited, a remake of the highest grossing Korean horror film of all time, Janghwa, Hongryeon (also known as A Tale of Two Sisters).
For those that like the bloody tang of horror-thrillers, there’s something especially tasty about these re-made Asian films, which are themselves cultural reinterpretations of the Hollywood horror genre.
To take the analogy a little further, it’s like the vaguely disturbing fashion for coffee beans pre-digested by a furry little animal (a civet), which naturally chooses the best beans, digests and excretes them, after which they get roasted and sold to the Western market for $50 a cup. Except watching The Uninvited will be much cheaper, and psychologically easier to consume.
In the role of Anna, Emily Browning may well have been cast for her ‘look’ (an Anglo interpretation of Asian beauty), but still gives a strong performance of a girl walking the knife’s edge of barely recovered sanity and supernatural heebie-jeebies.
Visually, the film is even-handed, psychologically taut and much more a thriller/suspense than a genuine horror… there’s more on-screen violence in a BBC nature documentary.
What really makes this film sing is the great sound-design – even security lights turning on sounds like the metallic ‘sching!’ from the Prodigy’s Firestarter. And the squelchy sounds? They’ll make your stomach turn as surely as if you found an eye in your burger. The Uninvited is served hot, and will make your blood run cold. Bon appetit.