- « Battle In Seattle. On DVD April 28th. (********8/10)
- Hotel For Dogs. On DVD April 28th. (***3/10) »
“An ending so shocking it will send chills down your spine.”
To hear the review
To hear the review
OK, that’s not a quote from The Uninvited, the movie. It’s a quote from the DVD box for The Uninvited, out April 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment. Here’s the thing though – once you have read the back of a DVD box, and it says something like that, you are then conditioned to look for the Big Shocking Twist Ending. So as The Uninvited was going along, I was trying to figure out who really WAS the killer, because all signs pointed to Elizabeth Banks. But if all signs were pointing to her, and there was a Big Shock ending, that means she isn’t really the killer, doesn’t it?
Then, eventually, gradually, and mercifully, the movie ended. And I said “what?” And I thought about the film for about nine more seconds, threw it in the reject pile and came to the computer to write this review. The Big Twist Ending in this movie is absolute nonsense. Utter, sheer, atrocious nonsense. The movie opens with a dream sequence involving a young girl (Emily Browning) running through the forest, and it’s supposed to be scary. But it’s not. Then it ends with what may as well be one of those it-was-all-just-a-dream endings that is equally unscary and utterly stupid.
The thing about Big Twist Endings is this – think of the great ones. Like, for example, The Sixth Sense. Or even (although it was not a good movie it had a great ending) Sleepaway Camp. The key to the fantastic twist, to creating the shock, is that when the movie ends you can then go back in your head and think “oh yeah – that all makes sense”. You haven’t been able to predict it, but once it happens all the pieces fit and you are stunned. I think the Twist End that makes the point best is the one in The Usual Suspects.
The big final scene in The Usual Suspects is, in a way, brilliant. However, if you think about it really carefully, it actually negates the entire movie. Nothing you have seen, in the entire movie up until that point, actually happened. And there is no way to know what really took place. But it works, because the movie then becomes a long story told by the one character who is not who he seems. And who may (or may not) be exaggerating his own legend. In The Uninvited, that feeling does not exist. Instead, we realize that nothing in the movie has actually taken place, that the entire movie is negated by the conclusion, but the character who has been telling the story hasn’t really been telling the story.
And so we get…nothing. The movie is negated, which might be a plus since it wasn’t that good to begin with. I like Elizabeth Banks, but she isn’t funny in this film, and although she plays a pretty convincing murderous bitch, her character is, like all the others in the film, utterly useless. All the “scary” stuff (which isn’t really scary at all) is seen by Emily Browning, the youngest daughter, and since she has been released from a mental institution at the beginning of the film, we already know she’s crazy. So the fact that she’s hallucinating is not exactly a revelation. And we’re not scared because we know she’s imagining everything. Like she’s on mushrooms or something.
The idea is that Rachel (Banks) IS “the Uninvited”. She was the home-care worker for the mom (Maya Massar) of Anna and Alex (Browning and Arielle Kebbel). When a big boathouse explosion kills their mom, Banks moves in to the house as their dad’s (the excellent David Strathairn) new girlfriend. As Anna gets released from her mental hospital and goes back home to live with the family, she and her sister begin to suspect that not only is Rachel not who she seems, she is also guilty of setting the fire that murdered their mother. The girls decide to expose their evil step-mother for who she really is, and scary fights ensue.
This involves many moments that defy logic. Anna keeps seeing these dead kids, and eventually figures out who they are when she falls into a grave – a very irritating horror movie convention, I would say, falling into a grave. It turns out that they were murdered by Rachel a few years before, when she was the nanny for their family. And then – poof! She disappeared! And…reappeared, less than a year later, with a different name but the same occupation, about five blocks away. There is supposed to be a state-wide manhunt for this woman, but she can ply the same trade just down the block? Something isn’t adding up here…
And the end explains that. Sort of. But not well enough. Before the movie is over, we meet a sherriff who appears to be very, very bad at his job. Why the girl goes to this sherriff, given the actual finale of the film, makes no sense either. In fact, once the Big Twist comes, nothing that any character has done during the movie makes any sense at all. But, at least it’s over.