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Anna returns home after spending time in the hospital following the tragic death of her mother. Her recovery suffers a setback when she discovers her father has become engaged to her mother's former nurse. That night, Anna is visited by her mother's ghost, who warns her of Rachel's intentions. Together, Anna and her sister try to convince their father that his current fiancée is not who she pretends to be, and what should have been a happy family reunion becomes a lethal battle of wills between stepdaughters and stepmother.
For more about The Uninvited and the The Uninvited Blu-ray release, see the The Uninvited Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Maya Massar, Kevin McNulty
Directors: Charles Guard, Thomas Guard
» See full cast & crew
The Uninvited Blu-ray Review
This intriguing Horror/Thriller falls short of the mark but is nevertheless worth a rent.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 29, 2009
Don't go home.
The Horror genre seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place, many of the latest releases returning to and re-imagining the brutal, unrelenting gore and iconic hardcore killers of the 1980s while most of the other offerings play to tamed formula, offering recycled plots from superior Asian pictures. The Uninvited falls squarely into the latter camp, the film a remake of the 2003 South Korean picture A Tale of Two Sisters. Not too scary, not too violent, not too atmospheric, and not too captivating, The Uninvited is about as generic as they come, but despite an experience that is almost completely forgettable, the film rises a step above some of its contemporaries and turns out to be an oddly watchable movie that moves briskly, get the audience involved in the plight of the characters, and throws a few twists into the last few minutes, some of which work, some of which do not. It's something of an odd experience, but as the film wears on it becomes clear that The Uninvited is its own worst enemy.
Anna (Emily Browning) has been traumatized by the untimely death of her invalid mother, continually dreaming of the incident, and for the past months committed to a psychiatric hospital and under the care of a compassionate doctor. When she is released from the hospital, she finds her home a far different place than she left it. Her father (David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) is in a serious relationship with his deceased wife's caregiver, the much younger Rachel (Elizabeth Banks, Invincible). Although discharged from the hospital, Anna continues to have visions of her mother, and finally deduces that her mother is pointing out her killer -- Rachel. Anna and her cooperative older sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), begin to piece together the clues that lead them to believe that Rachel is not only the killer, but is deceiving their father, too. The girls enter into a dangerous game where they must regain the confidence of their infatuated father and stop Rachel before, if the girls are to be believed, she has a chance to tear their family apart from within.
The primary problem with The Uninvited stems not from the casting or the crux of the story, but rather the integration of Horror elements into the picture. The Uninvited falls victim to the tired and bland contemporary Horror tactic of populating the film with disfigured, oddly-moving and jerky characters that scurry about in the shadows. This adds virtually nothing to the overall feel of the film, which would have worked better sans cheap scares and instead playing as a straight Thriller. In the sense that it is a Horror picture, it's something more akin to a poor man's M. Night Shyamalan film, playing with elements that offer to the film a somewhat creepy atmosphere and a few hair-raising shocks. At the end of the day, though, much like The Sixth Sense (a film that also plays heavily in psychological overtones), for example, The Uninvited plays out as more of a Thriller with Dramatic overtones, but unlike The Sixth Sense, this film doesn't incorporate the scares into the story all that well. The Uninvited tells not necessarily a good story, but an intriguing one, although the impact of the story seems lessened by the seemingly unnecessary insertion of a few scenes meant to scare audiences out of their seats. The Uninvited would have been better served had it spent less time on watered-down, been-there-done-that PG-13 Horror and more time developing its characters, their psychology, and their stories -- because there is a very good one here waiting only on some spit and polish to shine.
Technically, The Uninvited is nothing to sneeze at. From an acting perspective, Hollywood veteran and one of the best in the business, David Strathairn, lends instant credibility to the film. Unfortunately, his character is little more than a prop, a necessary addition to allow the Anna-Alex-Rachel trio to dominate the film, but rightly so in the context of the story. Young Emily Browning manages to captivate for the entire film, and if nothing else, she provides a breath of fresh air to the movie and to the Horror genre in general. Far superior to most of the typical damsels-in-distress that so often populate these sorts of films, Browning delivers an honest performance as she searches for the answers surrounding the untimely death of her mother. Co-directors Charles and Thomas Guard lend to the film steady, interesting direction, at once both atmospheric and comforting. The film's less intense sequences offer a homely, warm feel while the more intense, darker, and disturbing sequences seem more kinetic and alive. The brothers do all they can with what is, as it stands, fairly average material, and it is their direction and the fine acting -- particularly from Browning, Strathairn, and Banks -- that makes the movie worth watching.
The Uninvited Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Uninvited visits Blu-ray with 1080p, 1.78:1-framed transfer. This is a solid yet slightly unspectacular high definition transfer when compared to the finest of Blu-ray visuals. It's just the slightest bit dark in appearance, even during the daytime interior and exterior shots. Colors are natural, neither overly pronounced nor muted. Fine detail is nicely rendered. Everyday objects -- a seatbelt and headrest in car or the subtle ridges seen on the printed page -- all make for fine high definition imagery. The interior of Anna's house is warm and inviting. The hardwood floors, classy furniture, and all of the minute details to be found around the house, not to mention those in the attic that offer a stark contrast to the main living quarters with a cold, steely, and musky appearance, showcase fine textures and wonderful little details that make many scenes enjoyable to study. The disc also sports splendid blacks and good-looking flesh tones. The transfer features a nice cinematic look and feel, the slight presence of grain helping to give it a true film-like look. Though not the clearest, most detailed, or breathtaking transfer on Blu-ray, this is nevertheless a strong offering that does both the film and the format justice.
The Uninvited Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Uninvited features a crisp Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack, featuring a broad range of immersive atmospherics. An early scene featuring Anna walking through the woods presents listeners with the sounds of the great outdoors -- insects buzzing, leaves rustling, and wind blowing -- each playing nicely, primarily across the front but with noticeable support from the rears. The film relies heavily on music, both subtle notes to set a particular, soft tone, in addition to those that pound out in conjunction with the film's more foreboding and horrific images and important moments. In addition, the many sound effects heard scattered throughout -- claps of thunder, creaking bones, and the ringing of a bell -- all play with a good amount of clarity and definition, all the while often spreading evenly and distinctly into the rear channels. Also featuring strong dialogue reproduction, The Uninvited offers an inviting and sometimes even invigorating lossless surround sound experience.
The Uninvited Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Uninvited crawls onto Blu-ray with only three extras. Unlocking 'The Uninvited' (1080p, 19:00) is an average making-of piece that explores the making -- and the meaning -- of the film, featuring the usual array of cast and crew interview snippets and clips from the movie. The only other supplements are four deleted scenes (1080p, 5:37) and an alternate ending (1080p, 0:50).
The Uninvited Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Uninvited wallows in current-trend formula Horror and Thriller clichés but does so in the midst of a decent story that could have been more, though it is supported by strong acting and steady direction. The film is also well-paced, occasionally captivating, though it never truly escapes form the clutches of mediocrity. Still, it's one of the better of the Asian Horror remakes, all things considered, and it's been given a decent Blu-ray treatment courtesy of DreamWorks. The disc boasts strong video and audio presentations but severely lacks in bonus materials. All told, The Uninvited is definitely worth a rental.
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The Uninvited Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Uninvited Announced for Blu-ray - March 2, 2009
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'The Uninvited' to Blu-ray on April 28th, day-and-date with the DVD release. For this thriller, from the same people who brought you 'The Ring', video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied by ...
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