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THE UNINVITED
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn, Elizabeth Banks
Directors:  The Guard Brothers
Audio:  Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Dreamworks
Features:  See Review
Length:  87 Minutes
Release Date:  April 28, 2009

“YOU’RE NEXT.”

Film ***

There was a rather morbid joke that went around after the passing of Gene Siskel…what were the famed film critic’s last words?  “Wow…I never saw THAT ending coming.”

Brutal, but with an element of truth.  Those are the words that every film fan loves to be able to say, and so rarely are we truly afforded the opportunity.  The Uninvited grants us that.  It’s a taut, well-acted and truly unnerving film, and yes, I never saw the ending coming.

It’s actually the remake of the top grossing Korean horror film of all time.  I never saw the original, so I can only judge this version by its own merits, which is the best way.  It’s a character-oriented scare fest that’s light on the gore but heavy on the chills.

It opens with Anna (Browning), a young girl in therapy.  She has been haunted by dreams since the death of her mother, who had been ill and living in their family’s New England boathouse, until the night an open gas valve caused an explosion.

Returning home to her sister Alex (Kebbel) and father (Strathairn), she finds a new and alarming presence:  Rachel (Banks).  Rachel was actually the woman assigned as a caregiver to her mother, but now, she’s taken up romantically with her dad.

Strange visions continue to plague Anna, which seem to be her mother telling her that her death was not an accident, but rather purposely arranged by Rachel.  And now the sisters may be the next obstacle between Rachel and her ultimate vision.  Can they prove it?  Can they stop her?  Can they even convince her father?

As the sisters begin to piece together Rachel’s mysterious presence, there are more frightening developments.  Rachel’s boyfriend claims to know what happened the night of the explosion.  Visions of three small children point toward a terrifying ordeal that may have just been the beginning of Rachel’s sinister mission.  And the father…God help him…can’t seem to see past any of it.

Well, you know where it’s all going, right?  Wrong.  The ending is a true shocker in the vein of The Sixth Sense or The Others.  It’s a knockout blow that might leave you reeling a little bit.  I can’t discuss it, but I should mention that I’ve since wondered if all the pieces of the puzzle really worked throughout the movie.

My only real complaint is that there are too many moments in the picture that are just there to startle, and as I’ve griped about before, being startled and being frightened are not the same thing.  The Guard Brothers as directors crafted a mostly effective and atmospheric film with dutiful attention to character and style, but they might have benefited from a little more faith in their own creation.

All the cast members are superb…Elizabeth Banks has been on quite a role of late, and her versatility as an actress shines through in an enigmatic role.  Any movie with David Strathairn is welcome in my home.  But the biggest kudos goes to young Ms. Browning, who carries the emotional weight of the story through the entire running time, and does so with elegance and depth.

I’ve seen so many films at this point in my career that I can’t help but tip my cap and offer a heartfelt “bravo” to a movie that really manages to surprise me without making me feel like my intelligence had been insulted.  If you feel that’s an experience you don’t get very often, it would be worth your while invite this picture into your living room for a couple of hours.

Video ****

This is a striking and quite beautiful high definition transfer from Dreamworks.  The brightly lit Maine outdoor settings ring out with amazing clarity, depth and detail, and best of all, the dark scenes maintain that level of integrity without wandering into murkiness or graininess.  That’s a rare commodity, and it will make you appreciate Blu-ray all that much more.

Audio ****

As with any horror film, the soundtrack is critical, and this one packs plenty of dynamic range from the eerily ambient moments to the ones that rock you back in your seat.  Dialogue is mostly quiet but well rendered, and serves the overall TrueHD range capabilities well.

Features **

The disc includes a documentary, and do NOT watch it ahead of time; it spoils everything pretty quickly.  There are five deleted scenes and an alternate ending, which is not quite the ‘chiller’ the box cover proclaims.

Summary:

The Uninvited has flaws, but offers plenty to make up for them.  Tremendous acting, a solid story, and an ending you won’t soon forget make this one of the better horror offerings of late, and on Blu-ray, the good is made even better.

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