Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Uninvited

   I knew that by the end of the day I was going to end up in crappy territory. Lo and behold, I was right. I don't know why this movie got three stars from Roger Ebert, or why user reviews tend to be so favorable towards it. It's cliche, drawn out, anti-climactic and a chore to sit through. I kept hoping it would get better, but I blame the script. The directors clearly know how to generate tension and scares through visuals and the like, but the characters are so static and un-engaging that by the time we get to the twist ending, we've only traded one crap story for another.  Regardless, if you must know, the movie isn't entirely without merit.

   The actresses all play their parts with gusto. They're all trying hard as if the script was pure gold and they're gunning for an Oscar. Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks are sorta put at odds here as daughter vs. vile stepmom. David Straithairn, an actor I love to see, is completely wasted here as 'aloof dad', and little else. Any guy over 40 could've played the part. It was an obligatory character who serves a function in the story, but never gets any scenes or dialog to make him sympathetic or at least interesting. This guy's wife died and one of his daughter's gets locked up in a looney bin. You'd think we'd see more emotion from him or just... something. Nope.

   The majority of the movie focuses on two things, one- Browning's character has these horrific visions like something out of Evil Dead. Except obviously, it's the ghost of her mom warning her that the fire that she died in, was no accident. See, vile stepmom + dead mother = a story we've seen a hundred times. But, at least they stick to their guns here. The other thing the movie focuses on is the tense dynamic between Banks' evil stepmom, and Browning's innocent daughter. It's so played out it's boring. Yet somehow, the directors manage to squeeze a lot of raw tension out of this premise. How? I don't know.

   The horror visions aren't scary really because you know what they're getting at, or at least what they want you to think they're getting at. The stepmom vs. daughter thing is more interesting than the 'horror' elements, and it's all one big cliche mess anyhow. This is where I spoil the twist to this stupid movie, so if you wanna see it- buzz off now. See, Browning's character ends up convinced that dad's new fiancee killed her mom to take over the family. She makes some thin connection to a killer that was never caught and puts 2 and 2 together. We're led to believe this the entire movie, only for the rug to be pulled out from under our feet in the last ten minutes. We realize that Browning's character started the fire on accident which claimed not only her mother's life but her sister's too, and has now killed her stepmom-to-be and she's a total basket case.

   We're of course, treated to a montage of all these scenes from the movie, showing us stuff from a new perspective, illustrating the point that Browning's character is indeed crazy. What a kick in the teeth. This ending doesn't work on any level. There was no allusions to it, no hints, they just abstracted all the clues in the movie so that at some point, they could pull a fast one on us.  I wasn't angry, I just didn't care. It wasn't scary, it wasn't shocking, it made me roll my eyes in disgust. I was thoroughly displeased with this movie. If you're going to show me some supernatural looking shit, that stuff better be the villain. I hate ghost movies, because 9 out of 10 times the ghost is benevolent and just trying to warn the good guy about the real villain.

   Ghosts are scary, but not when you can read that twist coming from a mile away. Then it just ruins the scares you've built up so far, and effectively sabotages any re-watchability your movie might have. You know what is apparently supposed to be scarier than ghosts? A deranged Elizabeth Banks. Right. Anyways, the twist this movie has, takes the ghost aspect out entirely by making our protagonist psycho and crazy. So not only was the story not what we were led to believe, but none of the ghost crap happened for real. Having that as your twist is lame and cliche. I hate this movie so much, and I feel like I wasted my time.

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