Saturday, March 7, 2009

All Is Revealed When A Young Girl Comes Home From The Nuthouse

Anna (Emily Browning) returns home after spending time in the hospital following the tragic death of her mother. Her recovery suffers a setback when she discovers her father (David Strathairn) has become engaged to her mother’s former nurse , Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). That night, Anna is visited by her mother's ghost, who warns her of Rachel's intentions. Together, Anna and her sister (Arielle Kebbel) try to convince their father that his current fiancĂ©e is not who she pretends to be, and what should have been a happy family reunion becomes a lethal battle of wills between stepdaughters and stepmother in The Uninvited.

What a nice surprise! A mind-bending, intelligent PG-13 thriller that's well worth seeing. The Uninvited has great atmosphere, fine performances and nice twist ending. Anna (Browning) has spent some time in a facility where she has been treated for a mental issue (she tried to commit suicide after her mother's death). Anna can't remember exactly what happened the night her mother died in a fire, but her therapist thinks she's ready to return home and begin life anew. When she arrives home, she first encounters her feisty older sister Alex (Kebbel), who tells Anna all about her suspicions regarding their father's new love interest. Steven (Strathain) is the father who, although he remains in mourning for the girls' mother, nonetheless tries to maintain a normal existence. He's an author, and has just finished a book that he dedicated to his girls. Rachael (Banks) also is living in the house now. Rachael is a nurse who tended to the girls' late mother until the fatal fire. Anna begins to see disturbing images that involve her mother. During the private conversations she has with Alex, she concocts a theory that Rachael may have been the cause of the fire, which may not have been as accidental as everyone thinks. Anna begins to try to coax the truth out of Rachael, who truly isn't a very nice or caring person. It's obvious that she has feelings for Steven, it's true, but it's also likely that she may realize he can provide a comfortable home for her. And maybe she'll eliminate anything along her pathway to matrimony with the smitten, grieving Steven. Banks and Strathairn are terrific performers, instantly recognizable to those who enjoy movies and fine acting. Strathairn adds a somber, sympathetic note to the proceedings. Banks as of late has become a staple in adult comedies. But she has a broader range and has a chance to show that off here. Need you ask? The Uninvited is that too-seldom-seen thing: a traditional psycho-horror movie made with smarts and style, which arrives at a creepy conclusion with its honor intact. Looking back on its artful feints and misdirections, you realize that the key to its knotty puzzle is as plain as the knife in your neck, if you'd only been paying attention. Which I guess I wasn't. Too creeped-out, maybe. The movie is a spirited remake of South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon's 2003 shocker, "A Tale of Two Sisters." This English-language version manages to approach the gorgeous visual design of that film — a considerable achievement in itself — while at the same time paring away or tightening-up some of its more ambiguous elements. Something's Not Right. If Mom's so dead, what's that thing oozing around in the corner? And those three corpse kids in the cemetery — why're they still traipsing about? And that nice delivery boy with the urgent news to impart — what ever happened to him? Did he stumble over one of the bulging bloody trash bags? As for Rachael, she may come on all step-maternal now that she's lassoed Dad, but she seems to whip out a snarl — and a syringe! — whenever he leaves the room. "She's like a crack whore without the dignity," Alex says. Please take your undead hand off my leg. It's not a picture likely to set off any large cultural tremors, but its smallness of scale is part of what makes it such an enjoyable watch. And anyway — dude, what is that thing crawling around under your skin? This gets a scary 4 on my "Go See"scale.

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