The Uninvited 

2009

"The Uninvited" was no welcome visitor at the box office earlier this year, although it deserved better reception. I partly blame the vague title, which has nothing to do with anything (and is too similar to  "The Unborn," to boot).

This quiet little chiller is a remake of Korea's "A Tale of Two Sisters." At the risk of having my hipster card revoked, this version is better. No affront to Asian cinema in general, but sometimes, less is more.

Emily Browning ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events") stars as Anna, a teenager returning home after a stint in a mental ward, brought on by the tragic death of her invalid mother. In her absence, Dad (David Strathairn) has let his new girlfriend, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), move in. That's complicated, given that Rachel was the caretaker to Anna's mom.

Anna and her older sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), begin to suspect that Rachel murdered their mother. The ghostly apparitions from Mom seem to suggest as much, too.

Like "The Innocents" or, more recently, "The Others," "The Uninvited" is one of those movies where more of the fright is suggested than shown. However, what is shown takes a page from "The Grudge," but is effective in building suspense. And I'll admit, the movie tricked me "? no easy feat.

Browning is an excellent young actress, working slightly above the material, but it's an effectively oiled machine all the same.

The DVD's alternate ending is awful, but the making-of doc is interesting. Just don't watch it before the movie.

"?Rod Lott

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