The trailer for The Uninvited gives you everything you need to know in this Stepmother gone wrong thriller, and perhaps gives you a little too much. The film is rather simple and it surprised me that it was able to attract the incredibly busy Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck), especially since Strathairn only has about 5 minutes of screen time as the father. However, injecting this talent doesn’t really elevate the film, it just takes two token characters as far as they can go.
The story follows two sisters who begin to suspect that their Stepmother may have killed their sickly mother to get together with their father and may be interested in removing them from the picture as well. The younger sister, Anna was put in an institution after her mother’s violent death and since her return she is occasionally haunted by her mother and some various children who are warning her about her stepmother. These haunting scenes supply all the terror in the film which is otherwise a weak thriller where we are told Elizabeth Banks is evil from the beginning and in the trailer so there is no mystery. There is a surprise ending, but it wasn’t well established and is the definition of Deus Ex Machina. Ever since The Sixth Sense movies have felt the need for a shock ending, but that movie was compelling all the way up to the ending and then was elevated by it. This movie builds up and relies on a shock ending that weakens everything that precedes it.
The film has a few freaky scenes and I imagine a younger and less sophisticated audience could enjoy the film, and the PG-13 thrills are fine for teenage viewers so that is the only recommendation I would make. The DVD release is pretty basic which includes a “Making Of” and an Alternate Ending which isn’t much of a revelation.
Unlocking The Uninvited