Am I crazy or is Elizabeth Banks the new hot commodity in Hollywood? From where I sit, it seems as if she’s starring in nearly every movie made! Usually, however, she can be seen in some form of a comedy. Not in the The Uninvited. She sets aside the granny panties she made famous in Zack and Miri Make a Porno to star in what might be her first run at a psychological thriller.
She’s better suited at comedies.
Maybe that statement is a bit harsh — she very well may be good in a better movie. The Uninvited is one of those movies that simply tries too hard to be scary and tricky for its own good. Which, of course, should come as no surprise, seeing as Hollywood tends to make a complete mess of their Asian horror remakes (this is ripped from the Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters).
The oblong story revolves around poor little Anna (Emily Browning). She is getting over her stint in a mental institution for a severe bout of depression related to the horrific death of her mother. But so much for coming home to rest and relax with loved ones in familiar surroundings though. Her father (played by David Strathairn) has taken up to screwing Rachael (Elizabeth Banks), the nurse responsible for the care of Anna’s late mother. Her sister Alex (Ariel Kebbel) is pissed Anna freaked out and left her alone to deal with the new mommy of the house too. This can’t be good for someone recovering from a nervous breakdown and an attempt at suicide, can it?
And this is where The Uninvited goes screwy.
To while away the time both sisters begin looking for clues that link Rachael with the death of their mother. Anna begins to get visited by the “gruesome” ghost of her mother. I put gruesome in quotes because there is no payoff in scares with how she looks and when she appears. Every scary, tension building scene is clearly telegraphed from two miles away resulting in plenty of yawns. The story is also clumsily told — as if what transpires for 87 minutes was an afterthought simply to get to the “surprise” ending. And yes, there is an over-zealous attempt at a “Gotcha!” twist at the end, but it is so, well, utterly stupid that you’re left thinking aloud, “What a stupid fucking ending.”
And as I said at the beginning of this review, Elizabeth Banks is out of place in this film like a white guy at a Blank Panther rally. She doesn’t come across like the devious, conniving murderess The Uninvited needs her to be. Sure she tries, but she’s cute and makes great sex sounds; I can’t fear a woman like that. Emily Browning, as the recovering girl obsessed with solving her mother’s murder is passable in her role, but in a sea of underwhelming surrounding performances that doesn’t say much.
I was going to end my thoughts on The Uninvited with a clever quip, but I’m so uninspired I’ll just say to check out the original foreign source material. It is infinitely better.