"Can you believe what you see?”
'The Uninvited' is a horror film from Paramount that sings a familiar tune. The film is a remake of the 2003 South Korean thriller 'Changhwa hongryon' ('A Tale of Two Sisters') written and directed by Kim Jee-woon -- not to be confused with the other 2003 South Korean film 'The Uninvited.' It also contains a few obvious underlying nods to Stephen King, and the movie concludes with an attempt to yank the rug out from under the viewer with an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist ending. I'm unsure as to why the original title 'Two Sisters' was changed and frankly it doesn't really matter, but in hindsight perhaps a better name would have been 'The Unoriginal.'
Ten months after a tragic fire took the life of her terminally ill mother, traumatized teenager Anna Ivers (Emily Browning) has been cleared for release from a mental institution to be reunited with her remaining family members. Anna is happy to go home to her father Steven (David Strathairn) and big sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel), except settling in isn't going to be easy once she learns dad is in a serious relationship with his deceased wife's former nurse -- the young and beautiful Rachael (Elizabeth Banks). At first Anna tries to accept her stepmother-to-be, but when her plaguing nightmares leads her to believe that Rachael may have had something to do with her mother's death, the two sisters must join forces to keep the outsider from completely shattering their frail household.
'The Uninvited' marks the feature film debut from brothers Thomas and Charles Guard -- whose previous gigs had been directing short films and television commercials -- and it's nice to see their inexperience doesn't light up like a beacon in the film. They create an eerie atmosphere with decent moments of tension, and put the beautiful scenery around the lakeside property located in British Columbia to good use. Despite this though, the film does plod along at a significantly slow pace, and we don't really see anything new as far as filmmaking goes. Call it capable -- nothing more, nothing less.
The acting isn't all that bad, either. Emily Browning's character is the focal point of the story, and she's able to convey believable emotions and even manages to drop all traces of her Australian accent which is impressive. Kebbel does the spoiled teen thing, but doesn't really go beyond that and really doesn't need to. Both girls work well with each other, and apparently they snuck in some adlibs to create more of a sisterly bond on camera. Strathairn is always good in whatever project he tackles, just don't expect much more than him sitting around looking like an author. Finally we come to Banks, who is probably the most interesting part of the entire film. She injects a good balance of sweet and sour to keep the viewers guessing. But again, although the performances were fine, we still don't have anything truly memorable.
I think what bugged me the most was the lack of originality in this production. I'm not much of a fan of Asian horror remakes to begin with, which I think I spelled out pretty clearly in the past so there's no sense in ranting about it again now, but 'The Uninvited' even goes a few steps further --
drawing stealing its inspiration from other sources to boot. The way the long drive from the hospital to the lake was filmed looks an awful lot like one particular scene from 'The Shining,' there's some 'Misery' action going on as well, and let's not forget the fact that the father is a seasoned novelist from Maine, too. Wrap it all up with the previously mentioned Shyamalan-slammer, and we're left with a clichéd horror hodgepodge of sorts resting comfortably somewhere in the middle-of-the-road.
DreamWorks cordially invites 'The Uninvited' onto a BD-50 in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video (1.85:1). I wasn't expecting much here to tell you the truth, but it's actually a pretty solid transfer.
Rather than going the gloomy route, the film utilizes a brighter color palette. The image is slightly soft and a hair muted, but it still remains quite pleasing. Background details, especially the foliage around the lake, are just as sharp as foreground objects. Black levels are strong, and skin tones have a natural appearance. A hint of consistent grain can be seen from beginning to end -- although it doesn't have a negative impact on the picture, and depth is also satisfying. There may be a minuscule amount of edge enhancement in certain exterior shots near the water, but other than that I didn't catch any other flaws in the print.
The U.S. version of 'The Uninvited' on Blu-ray apparently isn't a region-locked disc and therefore should play in all PlayStation 3 and standalone players.
A lossless English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is provided for 'The Uninvited' on Blu-ray. The mix won't encourage your audio system do a bunch of jumping jacks and run around the block a few times, but it still manages to give it a decent workout nonetheless.
Dialogue is well balanced and prioritized, and the discrete surrounds of the wilderness and inside the creaky house come through sounding natural and realistic. The score by soundtrack composer Christopher Young ('Spider-Man 3,' 'The Grudge,' and 'The Exorcism of Emily Rose' to name merely a few from his extensive resume), may not be among his finest work, but it gets the job done with excellent dynamic range. The LFE channel is fairly active too -- whether it's being called upon for rumbling thunderclaps or timely jump-moments. 'The Uninvited' isn't too flashy, but sounds pleasant just the same.
The disc also includes Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish, as well as optional English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.
Surprisingly, DreamWorks didn't include very much in the way of supplements for 'The Uninvited' on Blu-ray, but at least what little is here is all presented in high-definition.
Technically, 'The Uninvited' isn't a bad thriller, there really isn't anything to make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. The Blu-ray has very good picture and sound but minimal supplements, and since I can't see any real motivation for repeat viewings here -- I have to call this one a rental at best.