Based on the 2003 Korean ghost story A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited is a taut, effective spook show that’s told with admirable restraint and subtle finesse, with an ending that will likely pull the rug out from under you. Yes, you’ll be able to figure out some of the plot twists, but probably not all of them.
Traumatized teen Anna (Emily Browning, who’s excellent) is released from a mental hospital almost a year after the night her bedridden mother died in a fire at the boat house of her family’s ocean-view estate. Upon her return, her older sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) fills her in on current events, namely, that their writer father Steven (David Strathairn) is knocking boots with Mom’s former caregiver Rachel (Elizabeth Banks). The sisters suspect Rachel had a hand in their mother’s fiery demise, and set about proving it, before the wicked nurse can become their wicked stepmother.
There’s nothing revolutionary going on in The Uninvited; it’s an Asian-flavored family fright-fest that never bogs down. The ghosts are suitably frightening, the actors tackle their roles with bravado, and in the end we’re left to piece together a tragic story that’s considerably more than meets the eye. It’s old-school scary and a good choice for a mixed audience of genre diehards and those who under most circumstances don’t dig the whole “horror thing.”