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the uninvited (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 25, 2009 by  



“‘Based on the popular Korean film ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’, ‘the uninvited’ is more of a tragic film than a horror film which ultimately rocks you at the end with its shocking ending.”

Images © 2009 DreamWorks Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: the uninvited

DURATION: 87 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English SDH Subtitled, English Subtitled, French Subtitled, Portuguese Subtitled, Spanish Subtitled.  Audio:     5.1 Dolby Digital , 5.1 Dolby TrueHD , Dolby Digital, 5.1 Surround

RATED: PG-13 – For violent and disturbing images, thematic material, sexual content, language and teen drinking.

COMPANY: DreamWorks Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2009

Based on the Korean film “A Tale of Two Sisters” by Ji-Woon Kim

Directed by Thomas and Charles Guard

Screenplay by Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard

Music by Christopher Young

Director of Photography: Daniel Landin

Editing by Jim Page and Christian Wagner

Production Design by Andrew Menzies

Art Direction by Margot Ready

Set Decoration by Dominique Fauqet-Lemaitre

Costume Design by Trish Keating

Cast:

Emily Browning as Anna

Arielle Kebbel as Alex

David Strhairn as Steven

Elizabeth Banks as Rachael

Maya Massar as Mom

Kevin McNulty as Sheriff Emery

Jesse Moss as Matt

Dean Paul Gibson as Dr. Siberling

From the producers of The Ring and Disturbia comes a nail-biting thriller, THE UNINVITED. Following the suspicious death of their mother, sisters Anna and Alex become entangled in a deadly battle of wills when their father becomes engaged to Rachel, their mother’s former caretaker. As the two sisters investigate Rachel’s questionable past, they are confronted with ghostly visions, terrifying nightmares and deadly consequences. All leading to an ending so shocking it “will send chills down your spine!” – Pete Hammond, Hollywood.com

Based on the popular Korean film ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’, ‘the uninvited’ is more of a tragic film not a horror film that ultimately rocks you at the end with its shocking ending.

“the uninvited” is a 2009 remake of the 2003 Korean film “A Tale of Two Sisters” which revolves around a teenager named Anna (Emily Browning).   We watch her as her boyfriend Matt (Jesse Moss) are at a party with friends and he wants to have sex but she refuses and takes off.  While going back home through the woods, she encounters white garbage bags and she sees a cadaver of a redhead girl falling out.    She then runs home and hears the bell that her sick mother rings when she needs help.    Anna goes to help her mother but when she leaves the boathouse where her mother is staying, the boathouse blows up.

We then learn that Anna was dreaming and she is describing the events of that recurring dream to her psychiatrist Dr. Siberling at a mental hospital. We learn that the boathouse blowing up is how her mother died and she was placed in the mental hospital possibly for duress.

Dr. Siberling feels that Anna is on her road to recovery and wants her released from the mental hospital to rejoin her family.  He tells her to have fun, get into trouble and most of all, “to finish what she started”.

When she is about to leave, she’s encountered by a patient who tells Anna, who will she tell her stories too now.  But Anna is just happy to be reunited with her father Steven (David Strathairn) and her sister Alex (Ariel Kebbel).  Alex is upset that Anna never responded to her letters that she sent to her and Anna said she never received them.  Alex is seen yelling at her father but he just avoids her.

We also see that the sister’s father is now dating Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), the nurse of their mother.   But the sister’s do not like her all that much.

The following day, she sees Matt who has come by boat to deliver the family’s groceries.  Matt tries to tell Anna that he saw what happened the day her mother died but before he can say anything, Rachel is right there behind them.

Things start to unravel at home when Anna discovers that certain things that her mother used at home are now gone.  The chalkboard and even her mother’s car, all replaced by Rachel.  Also, Rachel carries this pearl necklace which makes Anna quite curious about them.  As Anna goes to visit parts of her home, especially the attic, she sees her mother visiting her and trying to tell her a message.  Her mother who looks as she came popping out of the ground points outside and when Anna looks outside, she sees Rachel.

Anna comes to a realization that perhaps the mother is trying to tell them that Rachel is responsible for murdering her and her older sister Alex starts to piece things together and says it makes sense.

The two sisters then try to dig up anything on Rachel.  Alex will investigate at home, while Rachel and Anna go into town (so she can see Matt).

While the two eat lunch together, Rachel talks about how she hated taking care of the elderly because they were so mean and had to clean them up.  But tells Anna that the only thing that made her job any better is knowing that they will die soon.  Anna then has a dream at the diner and she sees a redhead girl sitting with two boys.  The girl staring at her.

As Rachel and Anna head to the local store to get groceries, Anna quickly goes to see Matt, quickly telling him that they need to meet.  Matt agrees and tells her that he will meet her at 11:00 p.m.  But before Matt can say anything, again, Rachel comes and interrupts their conversation.

When Anna returns home, she sees Alex going through Rachel’s lingerie and also discovers a bag with tranquilizers.  The sisters are convinced Rachel murdered their mother but Matt may provide the clues that they need to confirm their suspicion.

While waiting for Matt late at night, he doesn’t show up.  Anna goes back home and while asleep, she is awaken by Matt.  Matt says her mother warned him about Rachel and that he is hurt.  While the two embrace and kiss, something gets dislodged in his spine and he falls to the ground and starts crawling like a monster.  Anna runs out of her room.  And when she opens the door, he’s not there.  Another dream telling her that Rachel did something to him.

Next thing you know, as she looks outside, a search team and a helicopter are on the rocky banks near the ocean.  Both Anna and Alex run to see what has happened and Matt is found.  He is dead.

Because of Anna’s dream and that Matt tried to probably warn her, both sisters suspect that the two will be next.

At Matt’s funeral, Anna sees the redhead girl and two boys. She follows them and dreams that she falls into their graves.  She then sees the names of the children, they are dead.

Both Anna and Alex start browsing through the Internet and learn that Rachel is not who she seems to be.   As for the three children, they were murdered.   They believe Rachel to be a woman who murdered three children by using tranquilizers and murdered them.  The killer of that case was never caught.

Each time they try to get their father to listen, their father would not hear of it.  Anna then finds out that both her father and Rachel want to send her back to the mental hospital because of her behavior. To make things worse, the sisters find out their father is marrying Rachel.  But Anna confronts Rachel and tells her that she knows that she is going by a fake name and from that point on, their relationship worsens.

But Alex tells Anna to be herself and they will find a way to stop Rachel.  During a party for their father, Anna goes to help Rachel with the food she is preparing.  It’s an important day for Rachel, as she tries to prove to their friends that she would make a good wife.  But when Anna has a dream of another warning that she will be the next one dead, she ruins the food that Rachel prepares and ruins the party.

While their father goes out on business, the girls are left alone with Rachel and the two decide that they must act now before they get killed.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“the uninvited” features a very clean transfer as it sports a MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p (Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1).  The shots are primarily dark and low-level lighting and no artifacts or low-light noise were evident.  Outdoor scenes were vibrant in colors with blue skies, trees in the background.  Blacks are very good and no artifacting.  Overall, the picture quality was very good and you can see the detail of the talent’s faces and surroundings.

As for audio, the film features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack.  Some scenes that are there to frighten, really come out quite strong from your front channels.  I didn’t hear too much subwoofer usage or rear channel usage.  But for dialogue, dialogue was crystal clear, as was the music.   This film is not much of a horror film, so there were no major action, horror sequences.  If anything, there were short bursts of tense and frightening segments that were strong and really done well to frighten the viewer.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

This Blu-ray disc for “the uninvited” comes with three special features in high definition:

  • Unlocking the uninvited – Nearly twenty minutes long, this featurette goes about how the producers came across the Korean film and then purchasing the rights for the making of a new film for the English speaking audience.  Interviews with the directors, the Guard Brothers, the producers and also the talents of the film.  Emily Browning (with her Australian accent) and Elizabeth Banks talked about their first impressions of each other.  How the goal was to not be the same as the Korean film which was artistic but to come close in the final cut.  We also learn how difficult it was to find the home where the film would be shot and what alterations they were allowed to make in the home and for the alternations they couldn’t make, they had to use less light in those scenes.
  • Deleted Scenes – About five minutes long and four deleted scenes.  The deleted scenes were not integral to the film but one does feature Anna and Alex discussing her dreams and how Anna didn’t want her father to know or else they would think she’s crazy and send her back to the mental hospital.
  • Alternate Ending – About a minute long, for this alternate ending, let’s just say that I’m glad they didn’t use it in the final cut.

First, I must say that “the uninvited” is not a horror film, it’s a tragic film with a few horror elements.

For anyone expecting a horror film, they are not going to get anything anywhere near what is shown in theaters today.  If anything, the film is actually clever, creepy and enjoyed how the film was building up to this shocking ending which I admit, I was not expecting.

It was great to see Emily Browning as the main character of Anna, now slightly older since her appearance as the young Violet from the 2004 film “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”.  Her portrayal of a teenage girl who is haunted by these dreams and images makes you care for her character and thus makes the ending quite surprising for the viewer. I was amazed to hear her talk with a strong Australian accent during  the special featurette and then turning the accent off for her character.  All in all, she did a good job.

Arielle Kebbel who plays Alex did a good job and its another horror film for the young actress since “The Grudge 2”.  David Straithairn as the father Steven is a well-known actor who has been on many films (“The Bourne Ultimatum”, “Fracture”, “The Spiderwick Chronicles”, etc.) and plays a father who cares for his daughter but at the same time, conflicted when his daughter tries to hurt his relationship with Rachel.   And Elizabeth Banks (“Zack and Miri Makes a Porno”, “W”, “Spider-Man” films) who has come off a string of theatrical hits plays the nurse and fiance of Steven.  Playing a character of mystery until we reach the unraveling of the film at the end.

Overall, “the uninvited” was an entertaining film.  Like any Asian horror film that is being remade in the US, remakes tend to make people who are familiar with the original film, tend to give the automatic thumbs down.

Having watched a good number of these horror films from Japan and Korea, I never expect to see an exact replication for the English adaption and I just take it for what it is.  And “the uninvited” is a tragic film with a few moments of creepiness but it’s the ending that I felt was quite clever and gave the film that extra creepiness.

Anyone expecting horror/slash elements will probably be disappointed because the film doesn’t strongly go in that direction.  But as much as I found “the uninvited” entertaining, I still recommend everyone to watch the original Korean film “A Tale of Two Sisters”.

As for the Blu-ray, picture quality and audio quality were pretty good.  It’s just that the special features were a bit on the small side and the film was short and average at best.

Otherwise, if you are a fan of any of the talents in the film or want an entertaining, creepy popcorn flick to have in your collection that is not gory or overly bloody and sadistic, “the uninvited” may be worth it for you to check out and possibly adding to your Blu-ray collection.






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