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Uninvited, The (Blu-ray)

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
The Guard Brothers
Emily Browning
Elizabeth Banks
Arielle Kebbel
David Strathairn
Bottom Line: 

The Uninvited is a sneaky little film.  Based on the excellent Korean shocker, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited not only bears a different title - it appears as if the producers went out of their way to avoid mention of this film being a remake at all (as opposed to The Ring and The Grudge, both of which touted their far east origins).  It was probably a smart choice to distance themselves from the seemingly endless crop of lackluster Asian Horror remakes (most of which floundered in their attempts to cash-in on the success of the aforementioned western reimagining of Ringu and Ju-on ), as it certainly seems that the popularity of that sub-genre is definitely on the wane.  The thing about A Tale of Two Sisters (and, by proxy, The Uninvited) is that it's, in my opinion, a much better film than the majority of those Hollywood raced to adapt.

The Uninvited opens with Anna (Emily Browning) talking with her therapist about a recurring nightmare she has. Anna, you see, has been institutionalized since her terminally ill mother burned to death in the family's boat house a year earlier, and only now has she seemed to come to terms with the situation revolving around her mother's untimely demise. Sent back home to her family, Emma discovers that her father, Steven (David Strathairn), is now romantically involved with her mother's former hospice nurse, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks) much to the chagrin of Emma's sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel). As Anna tries to settle back into her old life, she and Alex find themselves being treated like unwelcome guests in their own house, with Rachel clearly marking her territory and assuming the role of "new mom".  As Rachel's influence over their family grows, Anna and Alex find themselves questioning the woman's intentions as seemingly supernatural forces point them toward evidence that that may reveal Rachel for what she truly is.

A Tale of Two Sisters was something of a gothic fairy tale, with elegant sets and somewhat surreal imagery, while The Uninvited is more of a straight ahead psychological shocker, obviously aimed at western teen audiences, but sophisticated enough that it even pleased an old goat like me. I credit that mainly to the wonderful cast, including the rather fetching Browning and Kebbel, and the glorious slice of eye candy that is Elizabeth Banks. She's quite good, here, in the role of the bitchy, conniving Rachel, and it's quite a departure from the lighthearted fare she's usually cast in. The ever-reliable Strathairn alternates between happy and forlorn convincingly enough in what is essentially an underdeveloped supporting role.  The real focus here is on Anna, Alex, and their wicked stepmother-to-be, the myriad shocks and ghostly visitations, and the borderline deus ex machina ending that will have a lots of folks shaking their heads in shock and disbelief. That is, of course, if they've not yet seen A Tale of Two Sisters. For those who have, little has changed in The Uninvited, but the great cast, solid production values, and slick direction make this particular western rehash one that's worth checking out.
The Uninvited moves into Blu-ray with a gorgeous 2.35:1 1080p transfer that sports a rich color palette and a very nice level of detail, highlighting the film's gorgeous locations (British Columbia stands in for Connecticut, here). Blacks are inky and consistent, skin tones  are pleasantly natural (no super orange spray on tan face here!) and the image possesses a strong sense of depth and dimensionality.

The Dolby True HD 5.1 soundtrack offers a solid mix that boasts strong bass response, crisp and clean dialogue, and a very encompassing surround mix that works all angles of the house.  Subtle effects creep up on you from behind and wash over you to the satellites, culminating in a roaring bass/center attack. It works wonders during the film's jump scare moments, and elicited the desired effect on several occasions (just ask my wife).
The Uninvited scares up a few extras, but nothing worth writing to your broken home about.  We get a short EPK entitled Unlocking The Uninvited which features interviews with cast and crew about the making of the film, a quartet of deleted scenes, and an alternate ending which is almost exactly like the one used in the final version of the film.
Even having already seen A Tale of Two Sisters, I had a lot of fun watching The Uninvited, and have to say that it really did surpass my expectations. It's a glossier and faster paced movie (clocking in at 87 minutes) than it's Korean counterpart, and the attractive cast makes for a fairly scary, sexy, and suspenseful flick. The Blu-ray presentation offers great picture and sound quality, but a disappointingly sparse selection of supplements.  If you like a good scare, a little mystery, and a few surprises, you could do worse than letting in The Uninvited.

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