No one should be surprised to see Elizabeth Banks in another film. In 2008, she was nearly ubiquitous, staring in huge films like Oliver Stone’s W., and Kevin Smith’s long anticipated Zack and Miri Make a Porno. No one can really blame her for slumming it now with The Uninvited. They can’t all be hits, right? But even for a teenage horror/thriller, this film doesn’t deliver. Even with three writers chipping away at the script that’s based on another film, it’s still unremarkable, and directors Charles and Thomas Guard (who happen to be brothers as well) turn to every cheap scare in the book to keep things mildly interesting.
Emily Browning plays Anna, an emotionally disturbed young girl who’s got some daddy issues after watching her terminally ill mother die in an explosion. You may remember Browning from Lemony Snicket, Ghost Ship, and other B movies. Anna just couldn’t take it all, slits her wrists and ends up in a mental institution (where she clearly doesn’t belong). After ten months of therapy, she’s released and returns home to Dad (David Straithairn), older sis Alex (Arielle Kebbel), and Dad’s new girlfriend/mom’s former nurse, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks). Understandably so, Rachael’s presence doesn’t sit too well with the teenage girls. Tensions constantly run high between the Alex, Anna, and Rachael. They all attempt to mark their territory around an incredibly unobservant father who seems to be as uninterested in his family as I was with the film.
The sisters fight to expose Rachael as some sort of identity thief serial killer, and Rachael fights to keep control of her man, and the household. Mostly this comes down to menacing looks, lots of crying, and several completely illogical plot turns that can’t, no matter how hard you try, be explained. The scares (if they can be called that) come from sudden loud noises, from Rachael (who is constantly on the edge of releasing her inner psycho) spitting ambiguous threats, and lots of blood covered clothing. However, none of this will really scare you. It seems the Guard brothers tried to hide Browning’s and Kebbel’s lack of acting skills with lots of screen time for the girls in bikinis. Straithairn’s role doesn’t demand much of him, and that’s how much he gives. Banks does deserve a special mention. She couldn’t change the script, but she was as creepy as it would allow her to be. The screenplay is written by Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, and it’s based off the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters. Despite decent source material, The Uninvited is filled more with boring, underdeveloped characters, than it is with excitement. Believe me, before the short eighty seven minutes is up, you will have witnessed every horror cliche in the book, and checked your watch at least 5 times. The Uninvited is shallow and boring, and should be skipped.