Stepmothers have never been popular in literature or film—- and they don’t fair any better in The Uninvited, even though the woman in the case is not yet an official member of the family.
After witnessing a horrific explosion that killed her terminally ill mother, Anna (Emily Browning), a young teen, ends up in the secure ward of a mental institution. But after 10 months of careful counseling with a psychiatrist (Dean Paul Gibson), she is finally ready to return to her family. When she arrives at their remote, palatial mountain property, she finds that her mother’s former nurse, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks), has moved into the house and is enjoying unmarried conjugal activities with her father.
Anna’s older sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), is well aware of the affair and is glad to finally have a confidant at home. Since the death of the girls’ mother (Maya Massar), she has also begun to suspect some sinister motives behind the accident. Anna’s friend, Matt (Jesse Moss), also hints that he knows what really happened on that fateful night.
However, when the sisters approach their father (David Strathairn) with their doubts about his new lover, they are met with a stern reproach. Still the girls’ misgivings about Rachael increase, especially after they find a carrying case full of syringes and tranquilizers hidden in her bedroom.
Their dubious discovery is only one of the ingredients folded into this classic horror genre recipe. Fluttering curtains, stormy nights, and scary music (even in a well-lit grocery store) are all hints that some creepy character is about to jump out of the shadows. And jump they do. The charred figure of the girls’ mother and the haunting faces of three siblings all make repeated visits to Anna, always with a foreboding warning about impending danger.
In addition to the eerie apparitions, the story, based on a Korean horror film, includes scenes of intoxicated teens and the depiction of sexual sounds and activities between teen and adult couples. Blood-splattered characters, carpets and corpses all up the gore level, along with the recurring sight of contorted, grappling figures. Though infrequent, the script also includes profanities and a strong, sexual expletive.
With all the usual elements of an under-age slasher flick, The Uninvited, rolls out a seemingly predictable plot. Yet a handful of twists, garnered from some of the genre’s best, bring an element of suspense to this otherwise typical teen horror film. Still, this remake is flush with more than enough disturbing images, moral conundrums and unsettling revelations to push this guest onto the “Do Not Invite” list for most family viewers.