The Uninvited Review  

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So I got fooled into believing that The Uninvited would be a remake of the excellent Korean horror A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon). Yeah, right. Not by any stretch of the imagination. "Inspired by" is more like it. Although that would imply that The Uninvited was somehow inspired. I wish. It's The Sixth Sense meets The Hand that Rocks the Cradle but sans any suspense whatsoever. It's a yawn-inducing suckfest of the highest order that had me shake my head in disbelief at how pedestrian an effort - in wide release, no less - it is more than once. And then they have the nerve to give us an ending that comes pretty close to saying "it's all been a dream" and show us some clips to substantiate their claim (at least that saves anyone who was still awake (and hasn't previously viewed A Tale of Two Sisters) by that time from having to re-watch this flick like we did the Sixth Sense;)

Instead, The Uninvited is a good example of what not to do. It gives us a laundry-list of no-nos to check. So here it is. This compares to a review much like this film compares to A Tale of Two Sisters.

1. Don't assume that your audience has the attention-span of a fruit fly.

The Uninvited is so worried that you bolt out if nothing "scary" or creepy happens within the first few minutes, so we meet our protagonist Anna (Emily Browning) at a party where she has some sort of ghost-sighting. No build-up, nothing.

2. Don't tell me what I will see half a second later on the screen

This should go without saying, especially in this genre, but maybe Brit directing newbs "The Guard Brothers" have never heard of it. As our protag desperately wants to leave the party, she tells us this in voice-over right before she shows us. Perhaps The Guard Bros are considering the blind audience members?

3. If you want to shrink a 110 minute movie down to 87 minutes, don't...

Tell us the gist of some backstory in expository dialogue. Anna tells us (or her shrink, you decide) that her mother burned to death in a fire and she feels responsible. And that she can't remember any details. Remembering the details will set her free, someday, says Mr. Shrinkmeister. Now you know. They might have shown us, somehow, but that would be more work and require skill.

4. Horror hardly ever benefits from characters who talk about their feelings

Seriously, the dialogue is the worst. Most of it is exposition, not much of it is really necessary, the rest is just plain boring.

5. Don't give us another protagonist who acts like she's a complete idiot who's never ever watched a horror or thriller or crime movie.

Imagine: you've just figured out that you live under the same roof with a killer who's plan it is to off you. Your plan is to tell your dad so he can take care of it. Before you get to do that, though, killer shows up. Do you then go nu, nu, nu, nu, nu, I know you're a killer and I'm gonna tell my dad! Huh! That'll show you!

No matter what we may be told later, in this moment our experience is ruined and we want our money back.

Apropos later. Later, as she has the opportunity to spill her news to her dad, what does she do? Whine about some petty, inconsequential stuff, forget about her killer-news. No, that is not resolved via the big reveal.

6. The horror genre isn't just for boys. Go to the movies and check.

Nevertheless, The Guard Bros felt the need to put Anna and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebble) in bikinis. And once again we get one of those inexplicably important scenes of two chicks, a dildo and sex talk. Nothing sexy about the scene, nothing scary, either. How old are these people, 13?

7. If you absolutely have to "remake" an excellent genre flick, don't try to make it completely different.

What's the point in re-imagining a film and keeping only some plot points or twists and nothing else? The atmosphere? Lost. The suspense? Gone. The beautiful music? Don't get me started on the pedestrian score. Why did a shorter film need an additional character? Dunno. This reminds me on Mirrors, even though Into the Mirror had its problems, too.

Anna comes home from the psychiatric ward. She's lost her mother. She hates her stepmom. Is she going to play and have fun, you think? This change in mood made the beginning of The Uninvited look like a gazillion other horror flicks who all start out like this. Adding the character and the boat made things even worse. Flip-flopping from one mood to the other and back just doesn't work. Admittedly, it's hard work to build and sustain a mood. But one might at least try.

To think that some of the horrid changes in The Uninvited are supposed to make the story "more American" is insulting. Here, girls get drunk and have sex etc.? In some ways, this reminds me on the equally horrible Wild Child, a rip-off of British The Girls of St. Trinian's. Coming to think of it: if this is a remake, then the rip-off meisters should get into trouble...

The Uninvited trailer (2:17)

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