In The Uninvited, a young girl and her audience find that there's no more life left in the Asian horror retreads. Creepy figures in the night, quick yet bland scares -- it's all the same in teen fright-land. The original, by The Good, the Bad, the Weird's Kim Jee-woon, was a stylish chiller hearkening back to both Ringu and The Sixth Sense. Yet while that director imbued a cold calculated dread to the complicated proceedings, Charles and Thomas Guard's rehash establishes itself right away as a lifeless vehicle ripe for crowds that flock to this kind of redundant spook-house fare. The only interesting bit is how the directorial duo handles the intertwining plot at the core of the flick -- and how obviously they decide to present it. Insert yawns here, because those who invite this sucker into their viewing schedule deserve what they get.
There's something not right in Anna's (Emily Browning) household. Upon being released from a mental institution, she returns home to find her dead mother's nurse (Elizabeth Banks) shacked up with her father (David Strathairn), and an older sister (Arielle Kebbel) who's hardly acknowledged within the family unit. Memories of the accident that took her mother's life haunt her, as do visions of a trio of ghostly children. Anna soon finds out that there's something more dastardly going on here than she could ever imagine as she delves into the mystery surrounding her family's tragedy and a local child killer who could be posing as her new mother-to-be.
One thing the Guard Brothers know is how to enact cheap scares. In fact, there are more than a few jolts in the feature, but it's mostly due to loud sound FX and lightning strikes rather than anything that would get under your skin. In the plot department, the decision to ramp up Banks' moustache-twirling stepmom from hell is old, tired, and downright laughable at times. And the relationship between the sisters, which the original hinged so heavily upon, is resigned to just a few simple scenes of interaction that basically undo much of the reveal at the end. It's obvious that none of the picture's target audience will be that familiar with the original, so it's possible they might still get some bit of a surprise when the rug is pulled out from under them. That said, the paying customers will most likely find the proceedings flat and uninspiring. It's best to line The Uninvited right up on the soon-to-be-forgotten shelves next to the now third-generation Asian remakes and wait for the next effective foreign genre fare for Hollywood to butcher and rehash. leave a comment --Jeremy Wheeler