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DREAMWORKS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Charles Guard, Thomas Guard
Cast:
Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Massar, Kevin McNulty, Jesse Moss
Writing Credits:
Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, Ji-woon Kim (motion picture, Changhwa, Hongryon)

Tagline:
Fear moves in.

Synopsis:
From the producers of The Ring and Disturbia comes a nail-biting thriller, The Uninvited. Following the suspicious death of their mother, sisters Anna and Alex become entangled in a deadly battle of wills when their father becomes engaged to Rachel, their mother's former caretaker. As the two sisters investigate Rachel's questionable past, they are confronted with ghostly visions, terrifying nightmares and deadly consequences. All leading to an ending so shocking it "will send chills down your spine!" (Pete Hammond, Hollywood.com)

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$10.325 million on 2344 screens.
Domestic Gross
$28.573 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 4/28/2009

Bonus:
• “Unlocking The Uninvited” Featurette
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Uninvited (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 20, 2009)

When will we see an end to the parade of Asian horror films adapted for American audiences? When they cease to make money, I suppose. I’m not sure where that lands 2009’s The Uninvited. While its gross of $28 million looks like chicken feed, they also come with low budgets. In addition, horror flicks usually prosper on home video, so I expect Uninvited will do well enough to continue the adaptation bandwagon.

Based on 2003’s Janghwa, Hongryeon, Uninvited introduces us to teenaged Anna (Emily Browning). After her chronically ill mother (Maya Massar) dies in a mysterious blaze, she attempts suicide and then spends 10 months in a psychiatric hospital. She finally becomes well enough to leave and heads home with her dad (David Strathairn) and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel).

And Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), her mom’s former caretaker – and her dad’s new squeeze. After her return home, Anna starts to experience creepy visions of her dead mother, and Alex strongly suspects that Rachel started the fire that killed her. We follow their attempts to find the truth and the supernatural scares that come along for the ride.

One might expect an 87-minute movie to zip by, but that’s not the case with Uninvited. With its bland characters and generally predictable scenarios, little occurs here to make the movie involving.

Indeed, the short running time may turn into a burden, as it means the film fails to become anything more than one-dimensional. Anna has the most potential to become an interesting character, but she never evolves beyond the mentally troubled teen stereotype. Rachel is little more than a generic Wicked Stepmother sort, though she’s still better developed than the flat personalities presented by Alex and their dad. There’s not an interesting character in the bunch, and the situations fail to muster much enthusiasm either.

Part of the problem stems from the film’s lack of thematic unity. Much of the time it attempts to become a Hitchcockian psychological thriller. You’ll find many nods toward Hitch here; from the music to the characters to the situations, Uninvited clearly owes a big debt to “The Master”.

However, Uninvited veers so far into the realm of supernatural creepfest that it undercuts the psychological side of things. A better-made movie would keep us off balance as we question Anna’s sanity. Uninvited doesn’t do that. It tries to have its cake and eats it too, as it leads us down one path and abruptly changes course without much rhyme or reason.

This means we find no depth or subtlety. Rachel comes across as a predictable icy bitch, while Anna is just a perceptive teen on a mission. The supernatural pieces feel contrived and unnatural as they attempt to mesh with the Hitchcock side.

Expect all logic to fly out the window at the end. I don’t want to ruin any potential surprises, but the film goes all M. Night Shyamalan in its last few minutes. The twists feel cheap to me, as I don’t think the movie truly earns them. Perhaps I just wasn’t being very perceptive as I watched the story, but I thought the twists came out of nowhere and felt tacked on and artificial, as if the filmmakers hoped the surprises would allow audiences to forget the 75 minutes of boredom that preceded them.

All of this means that Uninvited ends up as forgettable and ordinary. It wastes some talented actors in Banks and Strathairn, and it never generates much to merit our interest. While I can’t call this a truly bad film, it seems mediocre and ill conceived at best.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

The Uninvited appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not immaculate, the transfer usually satisfied.

Sharpness suffered due to some blockiness in wider shots. These maintained decent delineation much of the time but showed mild roughness around the edges. Still, the majority of the flick demonstrated good clarity and accuracy. No issues with edge enhancement or shimmering materialized, and source flaws failed to appear.

Uninvited didn’t go with the usual neo-Gothic look typical of this sort of horror flick. Occasionally it featured the desaturated look I expected, but it usually went with a fairly natural palette. The colors appeared appropriate for the material and demonstrated good clarity. Blacks were a little inky but decent, and shadows followed suit. At times they seemed a bit dense, but I thought they were fine as a whole. That went for my overall impression of this good but not great presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Uninvited managed to provide a good jolt. The mix opened things up in a satisfying way even during the quieter scenes. It presented a fine sense of environment and managed to place us in the action. The more typical horror sequences used the five channels in a satisfying way. They immersed us in the creepy elements and created a nice soundscape.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was crisp and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music demonstrated solid range and clarity, and effects followed the same path. Those elements seemed accurate and full. All of this was good enough for a “B+”.

Don’t expect many supplements here. We find a featurette called Unlocking The Uninvited. In this 19-minute piece, we find notes from directors Thomas and Charles Guard, producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes, screenwriter Craig Rosenberg, production designer Andrew Menzies, and actors Arielle Kebbel, Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, and David Strathairn. The show looks at the story and the adaptation of the source film, what the Guard brothers brought to the project, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography and visual design, and various challenges.

I don’t expect much from this sort of promotional featurette, but “Unlocking” works quite well. I like the information about changes from the original Korean film, and we get quite a few good notes from the cast. Don’t watch it unless you’ve already seen Uninvited, though, as it gives away many plot twists.

We also get four Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending. The latter runs 51 seconds, while the former fill a total of five minutes, 39 seconds. Under “Deleted Scenes”, we get “Anna Arriving Home” (1:19), “Girls at Dock” (2:22), “Rachel Changes Anna’s Sheets” (1:09) and “Anna Packs Her Bags” (0:49). The deleted scenes don’t add much. They expand on characters to a minor degree but don’t really bring anything memorable to the table.

As for the “Alternate Ending”, it’s not particularly impressive either, but it definitely would’ve changed the tone of the film’s conclusion. I don’t want to spill too many beans, but I think the “Alternate Ending” feels a bit sunnier and more positive than the one in the final flick. While I’m not wild about the movie, I think the existing finale works better.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Van Wilder: Freshman Year. These also appear in the Previews area.

Yet another adaptation of an Asian horror film, The Uninvited seems to lose a lot in translation. The American version provides no scares or thrills, as it simply plods along a predictable path as it lumbers toward its contrived conclusion. The DVD provides good picture and audio but skimps on extras. Skip this mediocre thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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21:
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