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Film / The Uninvited (2009)

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The Uninvited is a 2009 American remake of the 2003 South Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters. It is unrelated to another 2003 Korean horror film, a 1944 American film and a 1997 miniseries, all of which have the same name.

Anna (Emily Browning) has been in a psychiatric institution for ten months, following her suicide attempt after her terminally-ill mother died in a boathouse fire. Now she is being discharged and has no memory of the actual fire, although she is frequently plagued by nightmares from the night. She meets up with her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), only to find that everyone is ignoring her, and that her father Steven (David Strathairn) may be in a scandalous relationship with a murderer. Not only that, but it seems that no one is who they first appear to be...



  • Abusive Parents: In Anna's mind Steven is neglectful and emotionally abusive to his daughters while Rachel is physically abusive and emotionally manipulative towards them.
  • Ax-Crazy: Anna is revealed to have been the one who set the house on fire, unintentionally killing her mother and sister. Played straight later, when she murders Rachel.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Anna peeks through a keyhole and finds her father having sex with Rachel. Ultimately this prompted her to start the fire.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rachel is nothing but sweet around Steven, but seemingly acts very bitchy towards Alex and Anna, and appears to try to kill them towards the ending. It's ultimately inverted when it's revealed that Anna was actually the murderer, and that Anna seemingly just imagined Rachel acting that way; Rachel was indeed innocent.
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  • Body Horror: At one point, Anna finds a severely mangled dead body all chopped up and twisted beyond recognition. Eventually, she finds more dead bodies posing like this in garbage bags.
  • Dead All Along: Turns out that Alex was killed in the same explosion that killed her mother, and Anna was just imagining her through the movie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Find your father cheating on your mother? Being pissed is an appropriate reaction. Telling your mother, sure. What isn't is immediately plotting to set the house they're in on fire. It's safe to say that Anna is well off her rocker before she loses her sister and mother.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Though natural in a beach house, Anna still ends up barefoot in many scenes of the movie.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Through most of the movie, Anna seems to be haunted by the ghost of her mother and it's implied that it's because her mother wants to prove that Rachel caused the explosion and fire that killed her, and that Rachel is trying to kill her and her sister Alex. The ending reveals that Anna was actually the one that set the fire with the intention of killing Rachel and Steven, but accidentally killed her mother and Alex, and that it drove her insane, causing her to imagine the ghosts, Alex being alive, and Rachel being guilty, as well as kill both Matt and Rachel.
    • One other plot point is that Rachel isn't Rachel at all and is adopting a false identity. This is true But not for the reasons thought. Alex presumed she was a serial killer using a false alias, but Rachel was a victim of domestic abuse, and adopted a new last name in order to shake off her abuser.
  • Enter Stage Window: Anna at one point finds Matt climbing in through her window.
  • Foreign Remake: This film is one to A Tale of Two Sisters, the 2003 South Korean psychological horror film by Kim Ji-woon.
  • Genre Roulette: Switches from horror to drama to mystery thriller throughout.
  • Good Is Not Nice: While Rachel is innocent, she had some jerkass moments, such as the way she talks about her old clients. Elizabeth Banks said that she tried to deliver every line she said in a way it could be interpreted two ways, to support both the idea that she was evil and the reveal that she was innocent all along.
  • Hallucinations: Anna kills Rachel using a knife. She doesn’t even realize it, thinking Alex saved her, until the Wham Line prompts her to look at where she is holding her sister's hand, only to see she’s holding the bloody knife instead.
  • Mood Whiplash: Sweet tender moments between Anna with her sister, immediately go tense when Rachel threatens her, Steven ignores her or Anna sees a dead body.
  • Jump Scare: The dead body in the garbage bag suddenly twists its head 360 degrees and talks to Anna, scarring her.
  • The Killer in Me: Anna killed every person that died. She doesn't remember anything she's done until a massive flashback scene. It also comes with The Reveal that her sister Alex has been Dead All Along.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Arielle Kebbel wears a bikini top quite a bit throughout the movie.
    • Rachel too; our first shot of her is a Sexy Silhouette of her in a low-cut, sweat-drenched workout top. Her dress at the dinner party is very clingy too. She's Elizabeth Banks, after all.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Not only did Steven lose his wife, but he lost one of his daughters on the exact same day. And his other daughter is the one who killed them, which drove her insane.
  • Parental Neglect: Steven, who ignores his daughter Anna's warnings and ignores his other daughter Alex. there's a reason for that, as Alex is dead.
  • Psychological Horror: The film blends together elements of horror with dead bodies and murder, along with family drama, infidelities, loss and mental illness.
  • Red Herring: The records on Mildred Kemp, a nanny who killed the three children she looked after because she had an obsession with their widowed father. Anna tries to tell Steven that Rachel is her, but ultimately, she is wrong: the real Mildred Kemp is the mental patient from the very start of the film, meaning she was probably hallucinating the records in the first place.
  • The Reveal: Alex died in the fire with her mother. The fire was caused by Anna witnessing Steven cheating on her mother with Rachel and deciding to burn the house down. A trail of gasoline and a knocked-over candle result in her mother and Alex burning alive in the boat house before Anna can reach the main one. Guilt drives her insane, causing her to develop dissociative identity disorder. Anna imagined Alex being alive, and also killed both Matt and Rachel.
  • Sanity Slippage: This would be the case if Anna weren't already insane.
  • Scare Chord: Plenty in the soundtrack whenever Anna is tormented by ghosts or fighting with Rachel.
  • Slasher Smile: Anna displays either this or a Psychotic Smirk in the final shot.
  • Split Personality: It turns out that Anna developed this after becoming insane, which is the reason why she doesn't remember having killed Matt and Rachel.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: A suitably freaky one as well is the ghost of the girls' mother.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Alex and Anna. Anna dresses more femininely while her sister Alex is more athletic and prefers shorts, sneakers, tank-tops and swimsuits.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Anna was so traumatized from her mental illnesses and the sight of her father cheating that she didn't even remember accidentally killing her mother and sister Alex in the fire she caused ten months ago.
  • Trophy Wife: Rachel appears to be this to the girls' dad Steven. Turns out they really were in love and she was good all along.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Played with. Rachel is Steven's new girlfriend, after his wife died in a fire. Throughout the movie, Anna keeps seeing ghostly images of her dead mother seemingly accusing the girlfriend (who was her nurse) of setting the fire. In fact, Anna was the one who accidentally set the fire, killing her mother and sister, and blocked it out with the memories manifesting as ghostly images. The girlfriend was simply trying to be nice to her.
  • Wham Line:
    Steven: Alex is dead!
  • Wham Shot: After escaping the blaze, Anna believes she was saved thanks to her sister Alex and they confess to their father. Only to look and see that, instead of holding her sister's hand, she is the one wielding the bloody knife. Revealing that Anna was actually the killer and Alex was dead all along.