Sunday, April 19, 2009

THE UNINVITED: Another Tale of Two Sisters

THE UNINVITED (psychological thriller)
Cast: Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Jesse Moss and Dean Paul Gibson
Director: Charles and Thomas Guard
Time: 86 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Emily Browning and Arielle Bebbel in THE UNINVITED

PREAMBLE: Remember Kim Jee-Woon's A Tale Of Two Sisters (or Changhwa, Hongryon) that was released in Malaysia in 2003? That classic Korean horror thriller is adapted as The Uninvited by British film-makers, Charles and Thomas Guard, better known as The Guard Brothers.

The ambiguous title aside, this remake is more of a psychological thriller than a horror flick like the original. It is easier to understand, more absorbing and well-paced. On the minus side, there are not as many jolts and scares as the Korean effort.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The Uninvited starts off like a 'wicked stepmom versus naughty girls' story. Anna (Emily Browning) lands in mental hospital after trying to kill herself over the accidental death of her mother in a fire. However, after a few months, she is considered well enough to return home to her book-author dad (David Strathairn) and sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) at their sprawling house beside the sea.

There is a problem, though. Anna's hope of a happy family reunion is dashed when she meets Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), her mother's private nurse who is now Dad's live-in girlfriend. Soon, Anna starts getting nightmarish visions of dripping blood and of a trio of murdered kids. She suspects that Rachel had something to do with the death of these children - and that she may have killed her mother so that she can marry her father.

HITS & MISSES: It is interesting that the Guard Brothers have included subplots of their own to make the movie more palatable to American taste. One of these is Anna's love interest in grocery boy Matt (Jesse Moss). This helps to provide the 'cute guy' factor for the young girls in the audience as well as heighten the mystery.

For the males in the audience, Arielle Kebbel provides some eye candy scenes as well as lend solid support as the rebellious elder sister. Banks, meanwhile, manages to look both sexy and sinister as the seductive interloper. The most important star of the movie is of course Emily Browning who puts her innocent and vulnerable looks to good use as Anna the 'victim'.

After Coming Soon, Naak and other Asian horrors, I am tired of getting sudden loud noises to jolt us. Thankfully, we don't have these here - and the scripters (Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard) have laid out each piece of the puzzle with care. This is a change, considering the plotholes and loose ends that abound in Passengers.

THE LOWDOWN: A watchable, well-paced film for whodunit fans.


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