The Hollywood remake of the
Korean A TALE OF TWO
SISTERS. It must be said that THE UNINVITED’S makers tried to create
something beyond most Hollywood horrors, but what they’ve come up with, in
contrast to the complexity of the original film, is a hokey gothic
melodrama--all that’s missing is a crazy woman in an attic!
Writer/director Ji-Woon Kim’s A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003) was one of the
most popular Korean films of recent years, so a Hollywood remake was
inevitable. The directors were the British Charles and Thomas Guard, previously
known for the short films “Inside–Out” and “Round About Five.” For THE
UNINVITED (2009) they (or somebody) managed to attract a stellar cast that
includes Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn and 20-year-old Australian actress
Emily Browning (last seen in LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS).
Also featured is the prolific character actor Don S. Davis in his final role (he
died on June 28, 2008).
In an even more surprising development, the film
actually received some decent reviews from mainstream critics, definitely
unusual for a horror movie. This did not help it at the box office, however!
Having just been released from a nuthouse, the fragile Anna moves in with
her father and stepmother Rachael. They live in a forbidding Cliffside mansion
where just a few years earlier Anna’s mother was killed in an explosion. Also
living in the house is Anna’s rebellious older sister Alex, with whom she has a
Rachael is overly solicitous toward Anna and her sister, which makes them
suspicious. They come to believe Rachael might be hiding something, and do
research into her past. Apparently Rachael once had a different name and has a
connection with some unsolved murders that occurred in the area. But when Anna
tries to confront her father with this info she learns Rachael has prepared for
this eventuality, warning that Anna is still mentally unstable and should be
sent back to the nuthouse if she mentions anything involving murder.
Anna is suffering from quite a few mental problems, including recurring
visions of her dead mother. This seems to point to a dark secret that’s about
to be revealed in a bloody climax (hint: it involves Anna’s sister
There are some good things here. The performances of David Strathairn and
Elizabeth Banks are solid, and Emily Browning is quite winning in the lead
role. The build-up is also impressive, accomplished with real suspense and
character development. But the filmmakers can’t seem to refrain from
punctuating the action with noisy shock scenes involving bloody corpses.
Of course the debuting Guard Brothers can’t hope to
match the atmospheric brilliance of A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, much less the
psychological intricacies of that film’s narrative. Yes, they’ve tried to
create something interesting and multi-layered, and if I were grading on effort
alone then I’d call the film a success. But I base my verdict on accomplishment
and in that area THE UNINVITED falls short.
Directors: Charles Guard,
Producers: Roy Lee, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
Screenplay: Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
(Based on the film A TALE OF TWO SISTERS written by Ji-Woon Kim)
Cinematography: Dan Landin
Editing: Jim Page, Christian Wagner
Cast: Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, Arielle Kebbel, Maya
Massar, Kevin McNulty, Jesse Moss, Dean Paul Gibson, Don S. Davis, Lex Burnham,
Matthew Bristol, Danny Bristol, Heather Doerkson