Since THE SIXTH SENSE shocked most audiences in 1999 with its "Bruce Willis is actually dead" twist, we've seen a rash of films try to emulate M. Night Shyamalan's breakthrough moment - including, most desperately, Shyamalan himself. The newest entry in this growing genre is THE UNINVITED, a partial remake of a Korean film called A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. THE FILMEmily Browning plays Anna, a young girl who has been hospitalized in a mental institution following the death of her terminally-ill mother in a boathouse explosion ten months earlier. After her release, she returns home to find her father dating her mother's hospice nurse Rachael (Elizabeth Banks). Understandably, this does not sit well with Anna or her older sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel), who suspect that something is wrong with their father's new girlfriend. These wary feelings are egged on by the appearance of ghosts, who whisper foreboding warnings to Anna that Rachael is not what she seems. Indeed, as the sisters continue to investigate, Rachael the ghostly warnings turn out to be quite true. I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible here, although the film turns on a twist that involves everything that precedes it; quite a difficult task to avoid it. First of all, the film works very well as a psychological drama about the adjustments faced by children who deal with the loss of one parent. Early scenes take luxurious amounts of time setting up the world of the two sisters. This is easily the most intriguing section of the film, which believably creates the emotional atmosphere of young girls in turmoil and discovery. The directors, brothers Thomas and Charles Guard, here show an amazing amount of insight, setting up a languid and thoughtful mood to the film. Their efforts are bolstered greatly by some brilliant casting. Browning and Kebbel have enormous amounts of chemistry together, and their work is believable and grounded in reality. Also excellent is Banks as the evil stepmom-to-be, who imbues her early scenes with understandable nervousness and awkwardness that make her sympathetic. Much of this carefully-constructed mood and atmosphere is subtly undermined, however, by the screenplay's insistence on adding shock scares and ghostly apparitions. I found myself extremely disappointed by the addition of these supernatural elements, primarily because I found the human drama so satisfying and interesting. It doesn't help matters much that the ghostly scares here are so pedestrian and ordinary - bleeding keyholes and talking corpses have been done in movies for countless decades now, and they simply do not unnerve at all. The twist at the end, while fine for what it is, deflated my love for what had come before because I so loved the relationship between the two sisters. The actresses are so good in their parts that the ripping of that bond in two felt like a betrayal of sorts. That is different from the reaction of a similar twist in THE SIXTH SENSE, which gave audiences a sense of discovery. However, following the twist revelation, the screenplay adds one final little twist that I found quite satisfying. I was smirking a little bit along with Anna at the very end. This is a finely made film that ultimately undoes itself with an unnecessary twist. However, there are worse films in this genre than this one. EXTRAS I was very surprised by the lack of extras on this disc. It's BLU RAY, for cryin' out loud! We have the requisite "making of" documentary, which doesn't really highlight much more than the process of adapting the film from a Korean source. Since they bought the Korean original, couldn't they have included that here? What's the purpose of releasing BLU RAY versions if you're not going to give consumers a superior product? OVERALL I recommend that you buy the DVD version of the film if you like it, and skip this version of the film on BLU RAY. If you're looking for a pleasant entertainment for a night, this isn't a bad choice, however.
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