The Uninvited

Charles and Thomas Guard

BY Cam LindsayPublished Apr 24, 2009

What do you call an Asian horror classic when Hollywood remakes it? You guessed right: a predictable disappointment. Aside from Gore Verbinski's The Ring, attempts at Americanizing cult Asian cinema seem to be as futile as remaking classic horror — but they just keep coming. A remake of South Korea's Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters), The Uninvited stars Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) as Anna, a mentally disturbed teenager recovering from the death of her mother. When she leaves the hospital, she arrives home to find her dad (David Strathhairn) cozying up next to Rachel (Elizabeth Banks, who cools off that hot streak she was on with this), her mother's former caregiver. This raises a red flag for Anna, who along with her sister Alex begins to investigate their future stepmother, only to interpret Rachel's behaviour as increasingly erratic and threatening. When Anna's guy friend ends up at the bottom of their scenic lake they point the finger at her and begin digging into a background that suggests she was responsible for the murder of three children during a previous stint as a nanny. Despite its trickery, recalling The Sixth Sense and The Others, The Uninvited is as forgettable as these flicks come, despite the fact that the original it's based on was a chilling example of psychological horror. In a featurette, the Guards explain that their purpose was to "answer questions that weren't answered in the Korean film" and make it compatible with Western horror, where "everything makes sense in the end," but what I loved about Kim Ji-woon's original was its frustrating ambiguity and nightmarish illusions, especially the memorable ending, which they chose not to go with. The directors also admit they tried to "keep some of the original's art film style" but that's hardly evident, reflecting more of the same slick scare tactics as failures The Grudge and The Eye. The alternate ending is hardly the forceful conclusion you want, while the deleted scenes are a pointless assortment of footage.

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