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The Uninvited (2009)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/28/2008

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/25/2009

I feel like I should start writing a weekly column on remakes. Anyway, when you've seen the original version of a film and then you watch the remake, you are typically trying to spot which parts of the film are the same and which parts are different. But, what if you are watching a movie which had a significant plot twist in the original? Will it be the same, or will it be like watching Fight Club for the second time, where you are trying to pinpoint the facets which give away the twist? The Uninvited is the U.S. remake of the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters, which contained two big plot twists. Would the new film play in the same way?

The Uninvited opens with Anna (Emily Browning) returning home from a stay in a behavioral health hospital, to which she was admitted following a breakdown caused by the death of her mother. Anna is glad to be home, where she is reunited with her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), and her father (David Strathairn). Her Dad is happy because his novel has been published, but Anna suspects that he's happier about his new relationship with Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), the nurse who had attended to Anna's ailing mother. Because of this, Anna doesn't trust Rachel and she begins to suspect that Rachel may have actually been the cause of her mother's death. Anna and Alex begin to look into Rachel's past, but Anna's work is often impeded by the fact that she keep having visions of a dead red-haired girl. Is this linked to Rachel as well? As Anna gets closer to truth, she begins to fear that Rachel could be capable of killing again.

When A Tale of Two Sisters was released in 2003, there was a great deal of internet buzz about the movie and people were falling over themselves praising it. So, I took the plunge and ordered an import DVD of the movie. I've written before about how I get so involved in movies that I usually don't think ahead and see plot twists coming. However, with A Tale of Two Sisters I figured out the twist ending within the first ten minutes. After that, I found the film to be a bit dull, but I did like the explanation behind the twist.

So, The Uninvited is a straight remake of A Tale of Two Sisters, right? Well, yes and no. The main framework of the story is the same, as we see a young girl return home from an extended hospitalization and try to cope with being back in the home where her mother died. However, the ending has been changed completely, which changes the entire meaning of the movie. In fact, if the initial plot twist had been dropped, then the need for this a remake could have been dropped. Sure, some may have accused it of being similar, but the ending is so distant from A Tale of Two Sisters that they seem like entirely different movies.

Therefore, one's reaction to The Uninvited is going to depend on whether or not you've seen A Tale of Two Sisters. If you've seen the original, then obviously you're going to know what's really going on with the story. But, you may be surprised by the ending, which again, changes things drastically. However, watching The Uninvited will be fun, as you can watch certain scenes, knowing the truth, and see how the film tries to trick us. Although, you will also see how the movie cheats, as Dr. Silberling (Dean Paul Gibson), leaves out some very important information in the first scene.

If you haven't seen the original, then you will find a pretty good thriller with The Uninvited. The movie presents us with an intriguing mystery and wraps it in a ghost story. We watch Anna attempt to adjust to the changes in her life and deal with her past, while she and Alex try to learn the truth about Rachel. During this time, Anna is plagued by visions of her mother and the red-haired girl. The movie sets up a certain sense of dread, but the pacing is a bit slack at times. Ultimately, due to the multiple twists, The Uninvited is one of those films that you'll watch once and then not want to see again, unless you want to see where the movie cheats.

The Uninvited rebuilds the scene of a very depressing accident for some reason on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is notably sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The exterior daytime scenes look very good here and this is one of the best looking DVD transfers that I've seen in a while. The level of detail is good. The image is never overly dark or bright and the colors look very good. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, as the track brings us sounds occurring offscreen. The surround sound effects are good as well, and while the rear speaker action isn't constant, it's effective in the scary scenes. These scenes also offer good subwoofer action.

The Uninvited DVD contains only three extras. In "Unlocking The Uninvited" (19 minutes) we see that the film was shot under the title "Tale of Two Sisters", and they actually acknowledge the original film. This is a refreshing featurette because the filmmakers and producers speak extensively about the original film and talk about how they wanted to change things for the remake. (The funny thing is that they clearly don't have any rights to that film, as they talk about it, but show no clips or stills.) The piece then looks at the Directors, the actors and characters, and the locations. The DVD contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. Two of these are simply longer versions of moments from the film, while the other two are new, but brief scenes. None of them contains any truly new information. The ALTERNATE ENDING is quite brief and doesn't really change anything.

Paramount Home Entertainment has also brought The Uninvited to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. As good as the daytime shots looked on the DVD, they look even better here. Those exterior shots, especially those overlooking the lake, have a great amount of depth. The picture is never overly dark or bright and the colors look fantastic. The picture shows a great amount of detail, much to the chagrin of the actor's complexions. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Again, the film creates atmosphere by having sounds off-screen and the stereo effects here really enhance this. They are very detailed, uncovering the slightest sound. The surround sound effects also work well, making the house come alive around us. The subwoofer really shows off during the explosion.

The Blu-ray Disc carries the same extras as the DVD.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long