“The Uninspired”

The Uninvited is one of those kind of horror movies that leaves me frustrated. It’s a time worn premise that could still be mined for something interesting, which languishes on the screen. It has the trappings of a horror movie, some requisite boo moments and random creepy visions, which don’t really add up to a sustainable atmosphere. When it’s not pretending to be a horror movie, it’s half a thriller, in the vein of the 90s cautionary movies such as Fatal Attraction, Pacific Heights, Single White Female, etc. It’s strictly (horror/thriller) movie by numbers.

Based on Kim Jee-Woon’s 2003 Korean horror film, Changhwa Hongryon, The Uninvited centers on the story of Anna (Emily Browning), a troubled teen who returns home after spending time in the hospital following the tragic death of her mother. Her family situation continues to be complicated as she finds out that her father is involved with her mother’s former caretaker, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). Anna’s mother’s ghost shows up to warn her because her soon-to-be evil stepmother isn’t who she claims to be. Anna teams up with her equally troubled, though in a different way, sister, Alex, as they investigate their father’s girlfriend in a battle of wills.

“We all have things in our past that we’re ashamed of. I think sometimes it’s best to let them go.” –Rachel

We all have regrets. Fixing matters isn’t always an option: what’s done is done. Sometimes you just have to carry the weight of your bad decisions and selfishness and hopefully let them shape you into a better person. Even our mistakes have value, if it leads to a transformation of who you are and what you do. If we can’t go through life doing our best to love one another, then the least we can do is try and go through life trying to cause as little damage as possible. And have fewer causes of regrets.

Danny DeVito’s character in the movie The Big Kahuna put it this way: “I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can’t, because it’s too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don’t matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.”

Sibling directors, Charles and Thomas Guard, haven’t quite mastered the rhythms of a horror movie, inserting predictable creepy elements rather than doing anything with them. The movie arrives a few years too late to ride the coat tails of the Asian horror re-make trend (The Ring, The Grudge, Shutter). Dull, flat, and obvious, the movie lacks style, grace, creepiness, and any originality and there are better ways to kill an hour and a half of your time.