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Movie: The Uninvited

This mildly spooky little number opens with a creepy dream sequence that segues to a scene of our teenaged heroine, Anna (Emily Browning), pouring her heart out to her therapist. We soon learn she has been in a mental institution for the past ten months following the violent death of her ailing mother. The scars on Anna’s wrist attest to deep trauma. Doc is pretty hopeless at deciphering her dreams for her, but seems to think she’s good to go – home, that is. “Go home and finish what you started,” he sagely intones. Whatever that means.

Doting Daddy (David Strathairn) is glad to have his girl back, but the car ride home is probably the last time our girl Anna will have him to herself. You see, Rachael (Elizabeth Banks), the young, blonde nurse who tended to her dying mother, has wasted no time promoting herself from hired help to soon-to-be Step Mom. Anna’s sassy sister and best bud Alex (Arielle Kebbel) shares Anna’s distaste for the sexy usurper.

Next thing you know, the grisly ghost of their mother starts popping up, sepulchrally intoning “Murder!” and evoking the opening scenes of Hamlet to good effect.
Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, and Emily Browning in "The Uninvited."Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, and Emily Browning in “The Uninvited.”
Before you can say “I see dead people!” Anna is tracking down info on her Dad’s fiancée and digging around in her murky past. Did the evil Step-Mom-to-be do away with her mother? And is Anna next?!

For a PG-13-rated ghost story, “The Uninvited” has some decent scares and a tricksy plot that should keep you guessing until the end.

Browning does a great job as our troubled, angel-faced heroine and the always wonderful Strathairn is fantastic as her slightly aloof father, torn between his new love and his trouble-making daughter. In true Hollywood fashion, Dad is a star novelist, presumably from the galaxy of Stephen King, judging by the gorgeous waterfront mansion. The casting of Elizabeth Banks in the role of a villain is a far cry from her usually goofy comedic roles and she does a marvelous job of investing even the most innocent lines with menace.

An effective slice of psychological horror, “The Uninvited” is a decent date movie that won’t leave you feeling swindled.

Rated: PG-13
Stars: Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, David Strathairn, Arielle Kebbel
Director: Charles and Thomas Guard
Release date: 1/30/09

Studio/Official Site: www.uninvitedmovie.com

[Pauline Adamek is a Hollywood-based film, theater, and food critic who files for “FilmInk Australia,” “LA Daily News,” “Sun Community Newspapers,” as well as various websites under the “nom du net” Max Million.]

About Jenny Peters (155 Articles)
<p>Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered “Lifestyle” reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today’s 10Best.com, AARP.org, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (www.criticschoice.com), which annually honors the year’s top films with the Critics’ Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.</p>

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