The Uninvited

By Mark Ramsey | 2009/02/03

You know you’re in the presence of a thriller aimed at teen girls when the horror is High School Musical on Ice.

Now that’s scary!

And why does ice attract family entertainment the way hot tubs attract MTV, anyway?

Yes, there’s something evil and insidious in the air and it’s not just the hypnotic sounds of the Jonas Brothers. No, it’s the noise of one dream sequence after another! Hey, if I’m going to watch a 90 minute dream, it had better be with my own eyes closed.

Anna, our teen hero, is in the crazy house – or that version of the crazy house packed with beautiful teens crazy for strategically unkempt hair. Anna’s finally sane enough to return home to her palatial estate by the lake, where all the finest crazy people go to convalesce.

TheUninvited_house.jpgBut can she get through the doorway? Anna has lips so pouty-big, it’s as if her cheeks are trying to escape through her mouth before somebody gets hurt.

Said Mother Nature, “At a certain point I might as well just turn her face inside out so it’s all lip.”

Back to our story…

Once upon a time Anna’s mom died in a fire and her super-lip was unable to extinguish the blaze.

“A little spit would have done the trick,” Anna bellowed. “Just a little spit propelled by the twin pontoons called my mouth!”

Anyway, her mom’s demise drove her over the edge. Mom was an invalid who was set up in the distant boathouse, because whenever somebody can’t tend to their own needs, common practice is to deposit them far away in the isolated boathouse where they have to ring a tiny bell for help.

Why anyone would feel guilty when that boathouse goes up in flames is beyond me. Especially when the blaze is mistaken for a romantic sunset from the Big House.

So Anna tries to commit suicide, unfortunately instead of slicing her wrists she sliced her Hannah Montana DVD’s and the results, while painful, weren’t fatal.

David Strathairn, a fine actor who still hasn’t recovered from a near-fatal bout of Sam Waterston-itis, is here reduced to the kind of dad role usually accompanied by a cardigan, a pipe, some slippers, and lots of scenes getting into and out of cars.

“I’m a method actor,” said Stathairn. “I have to know why I’m getting into and out of cars all the time, and the answer is…because I want to eat.”

Strathairn’s new squeeze is his late wife’s former nurse, Elizabeth Banks, who masters the prettiest form of evil possible. It’s hard to be scary when you look like Elizabeth Banks unless you’re being chased by a mad killer wielding the age of 40.

TheUninvited_lips.jpgIs Elizabeth out to kill Anna? Off to the town sheriff, who turns out to be the slowest thinking sheriff in movie history:

“So what you’re saying is, your life is in danger?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.”

“So what you’re saying is, that’s what you’re saying?”

“Yes, that’s what I said I’m saying, uh, what?”

“So what you’re saying is that’s what you said you’re saying?”

Anna keeps seeing dead kids giving her the evil eye.

“Why are you dead kids dressed like you’re hunting Easter Eggs at the country club?” she asks.

“Don’t be distracted by our Sunday School attire, we’re dead as doornails and equally well-behaved!”

I was waiting for a twist ending – and while waiting I was twisting in my seat. So when the inevitable twist finally came, I was ready.

Ready to be disappointed by a wrap-up so derivative these filmmakers had better hope no teenage girls remember a little movie that launched the career of a guy named M. Night Shyamalan.

The Uninvited has overstayed its welcome.


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