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Uninvited, The (2009)
Friday, January 30, 2009
For violent and disturbing images, thematic material, sexual content, language and teen drinking
Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn
Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard
Thomas Guard, Charles Guard
In the suspense thriller "The Uninvited," based on the 2003 Korean motion picture "Changhwa, Hongryon" written and directed by Kim Jee-woon, Anna (Emily Browning) returns home after spending time in a psychiatric facility following her mother's tragic death and discovers that her mother's former nurse, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), has moved into their house and become engaged to her father, Steven (David Strathairn). Soon after she learns this shocking news,
Uninvited, The (2009) | Review
Forgotten but Not Gone
The seemingly quintessential evil stepmother story, The Univited is driven by Anna's quickly evolving notion that Rachael was somehow involved in her mother's death, may not even be who she claims to be, and is essentially just waiting to get rid of Anna and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) once and for all. With every ticking minute and each new ghostly appearance, you know that it is only a matter of time until a fatal confrontation leaves the already suffering family short at least one more member. But with a fairly unexpected twist coming into play near the story's end, the true horror of The Uninvited is that the actual incarnation of its evil pushes us to not just contemplate the evil outsider, but to come face to face with the battle between good and evil within.
Central to Anna's suspicions regarding Rachael is the increasing sense that neither the people nor the events that surround her are what they seem. While the fire that killed her mother was officially an accident, Anna believes it was murder. While Rachael came into the Rydell home as a nurse, Anna believes she is a cold-blooded killer. And while Anna's release from the mental hospital is supposed to be about a return home and a rebuilding of family, all signs point instead to a family and home on a crash course for an even worse fate than they have already endured.
As the movie's title indicates, in Anna's life is an evil presence that is not welcome. In concrete terms, it is a murderer. In less concrete terms, however, it could be characterized as everything from the unforgiven actions of another, the undealt-with sufferings of the past, and the unadmitted error of one's own logic. "We all have things in our past that we're ashamed of. I think it's best if we just let them go," says Rachael. "We survive by remembering, but sometimes we survive by forgetting," Anna's doctor tells her. But as the movie unfolds, what we see is that simply forgetting that evil is there does not make it go away.
Central to the story of The Uninvited is the concept that good and evil cannot coexist in harmony. Almost as soon as the story begins, we know that at some point either Anna or Rachael is going to have to die. And when it comes to evil within ourselves, the scary reality is that the same is true. We may attribute our less-than-loving thoughts and less-than-noble acts to an alternate persona, but still, that person will remain a part of us. We may construct fictional realities in which self-centered behavior and unforgiving judgment are passed off as self defense or righteous justice, but in the end, the only narrative that will remain is the truth. And in the same way that the evil within the Rydell household destroys their home and essentially every member of their family, so will any evil we allow to keep residence in ourselves destroy us.
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