Movies at the speed of Sky.
True, this is another remake of an Asian horror, but the movies American filmmakers are
ripping riffing off these days tend to be Korean rather than Japanese. However, these are still often just films with a twist, and the test is really how hard you fall for it. Or how far you WANT to fall for it. The best kind of films in this genre can be like a Columbo episode, where even though you know something’s up, and exactly who did it, there’s no harm in seeing how it all unravels. This is even more important when it’s a remake – and I had seen the original Two Sisters film a few years ago, but this looked like a well made effort and I gave it a chance.
BIG HONKING SPOILERS
It’s definitely NOT as terrifying as the original, that’s the first important point. The buttoned down repression in the original film, the smart outfits and the unspoken fear, and the alien culture that still mirrored a 1930s English-set period drama, combined to give me the creeps throughout. The Uninvited does pretty well, considering, and looks gorgeous. People underestimate the value of movies looking sumptuous. The two teenage leads – tall, tough Alex (Arielle Kebbel) and mousy, big-eyed Anna (Emily Browning) are convincing siblings, and Emily Browning quietly inhabits the screen as the vulnerable, slightly insane centre of the film. Her look matches the buttoned-down, cutely demure look that the Korean version also used to full advantage in their lead actress.
The story opens on Anna’s release after ten months in a psychiatric unit. She’s a damaged young girl with some traumatic events to work through, but her psychiatrist seems happy that she’s all cured, despite her freaky dreams. Now she’s allowed to return to her plush home to live with her father and sister, a huge seaside house that people only seem able to afford inhorror movies. We learn that her ailing mother died in a huge explosion in the boat house where she was being looked after. Now the sisters have to contend with blond, perky Rachel, a potentially evil stepmother. I was very pleased to see that she was played by Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs, Zack & Mirri Do A Porno) who really can play ‘nice’ with a very sharp centre.
Anna and Alex’s suspicions about Rachel grow worse, reaching a crux when a boy who may hold the key to the night when her mother died turns up dead in the water. Anna appears to be getting psychic visions of what really happened to those who died around her. She must act to save herself and her sister before evil Rachel kills them both!
Except, Anna’s totally, frog-jugglingly insane. Fans of the genre might have already picked up on this about ten minutes in – a good thing to watch out for is the ‘person protagonist talks to, but everyone else avoids eye contact with’ scene. So, think the 6th Sense. Sort of. Anna is working through her guilt, perhaps, but it eventually turns deadly and I think they sell this twist pretty well. This turnaround is also way more explosive and less convoluted than the original, but I liked this as it meant I really hadn’t seen it before. In other movies, yes, but I wasn’t sure word for word here. And OK, I’m kind of fond of films that pull off the ‘unreliable witness’ properly, and if you enjoy the ride there you won’t be too disappointed. Trying to fit together exactly when she started to Norman Bates her brain may cause a mild headache, though.
If you’re sick to death of twists, then you might still hate this, but I think this little American-flavoured wannabe actually does pretty well. However, I would still recommend you put on the night-light and watch the original, too. Maybe watch it first? I promise you, though, that the ‘door opening in bedroom scene’ is terrifying in either incarnation!