is about time that someone did an intervention on Elizabeth Banks’ career.
In just over two months, she has been in four new movies (and one video
release) – none of which has really taken advantage of her talents.
was underused on one comedy (Role Models), rose above mediocre
material in two others (Zack and Miri Make a Porno and the Eddie
Murphy video Meet Dave). She did fine work in a small supporting
role in a historical drama – playing Laura Bush in Oliver Stone’s W.
Now she is the fiancée from hell in this formulaic little thriller.
isn’t to say that The Uninvited is a bad film or that she does a poor
job in her role. In fact, the movie is a better-than-average genre piece,
mostly due to a legitimately surprising ending which props up some pretty
Banks does fine as a slightly generic bogeywoman – it’s just a rather
thankless role. All she is really allowed to do is smile charmingly or
stare daggers – basically act suspicious as all hell. After seeing the
climax, I suspect that on repeat viewings the character may have a lot more
levels and shadings than the audience recognizes on the first go-around, but
my initial gut reaction is that the role is a bit of a waste of a normally
captivating screen presence.
Korean horror film called
movie itself is a remake of a Janghwa, Hongryeon
(A Tale of Two
Sisters). Not exactly timely – it is about a few years after the whole
Ring/Grudge/Dark Water Asian-horror remake trend sort of sputtered out.
However, The Uninvited shares several of the benchmarks of the style
– the shuddering, creaking ghosts crawling up in the dark, the slightly
muddled storyline and the against-the-grain climax.
is the story of Anna (Emily Browning), a teen returning home from a mental
hospital months after her mother is killed in an explosion. The mother –
who was chronically ill even before the accident – had a beautiful nurse
named Rachael (Banks) who is now preparing to marry Anna’s father (David Strathairn). Anna and her older sister
Alex (Arielle Kebbel) quickly become
certain that the nurse killed their mother and set out to prove it.
Suddenly, bodies start to pile up and no one believes Anna because of her
recent stay in the sanitarium.
Browning is terrific in this complicated role – she has the most flashy
scenes and is able to segue from horror to joy to confusion to resignation
to steely determination. Kebbel is just fine in a much more one-note
characterization, but as the father Strathairn – normally a very reliable
actor – appears to be phoning it in during his few scenes.
Looking back, I’m not sure how well the ending holds together – just because
it did capture me enough by surprise that I did not notice any
foreshadowings of the climax. Of course, I am
giving the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt that they were actually there. Even
looking back I don’t particularly remember any, but I guess it would be only
fair to watch it again knowing the direction the story was heading. I
hope they are indeed there. I would hate to think that the nifty
ending, which pretty much saved The Uninvited from mediocrity, was a
on a gut level, The Uninvited mostly worked. Even if it was
just a sleight-of-hand trick, it was a pretty good one.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: January 31, 2009.