The Uninvited (2009 film)

The Uninvited is a 2009 American psychological horror film directed by the Guard Brothers and starring Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, and David Strathairn. It is a remake of the 2003 South Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, which is in turn one of several film adaptations of the Korean folk tale Janghwa Hongryeon jeon. The film received mixed reviews.

The Uninvited
The Uninvited (2009 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byThe Guard Brothers
Produced byWalter F. Parkes
Laurie MacDonald
Roy Lee
Screenplay byCraig Rosenberg
Doug Miro
Carlo Bernard
Based onA Tale of Two Sisters
by Kim Jee-woon
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyDaniel Landin
Edited byJim Page
Christian Wagner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 30, 2009 (2009-01-30) (United States/Canada)
  • May 28, 2009 (2009-05-28) (Germany)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$42.7 million[2]


Anna 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, though she is frequently plagued by recurring nightmares from that night. She is picked up by her father, Steven, a writer who has dedicated his latest book to Anna and her sister Alex.

At home, Anna reunites with Alex, with whom she is close. The sisters stand against Steven's girlfriend Rachel, who had been their mother's live-in nurse. Alex criticises Steven for sleeping with Rachel while the girls' mother was still alive and sick in bed. Anna describes to Alex how scenes from her dreams have started happening while she is awake. The sisters become convinced that the hallucinations are messages from their mother, telling them that she was murdered by Rachel so Rachel could be with their father.

Anna catches up with her old boyfriend Matt, who tells her that he saw what happened the night of her mother's death. The two secretly plan to meet that night, but he fails to show up and she returns home. In her room, she has a ghastly hallucination of him and the next morning, his dead body is pulled out of the water, his back broken just the way Anna saw it in her vision. The police state he fell and drowned.

After the sisters are unable to find a record of Rachel with the State Nursing Association, they conclude she is actually Mildred Kemp, a nanny who killed three children she was paid to care for because she was obsessed with their widowed father. They try to warn Steven, but he ignores their concerns. The girls try to gather evidence against Rachel to show the police but Rachel catches them and violently sedates Alex. Anna escapes and goes to the local police station, but they do not believe her and call Rachel to take her home.

As Rachel violently sedates Anna and puts her to bed, Anna sees Alex in the doorway with a knife before passing out. When she wakes up, she finds that Alex has killed Rachel and thrown her body in the dumpster. When their father arrives home, Anna explains that Rachel tried to murder them but Alex saved them by killing her. Confused and in panic, Steven tells Anna that Alex died in the fire along with their mother. Anna looks down to find that the bloody knife is in her hand, rather than her sister's.

Anna finally remembers what happened on the night of the fire: after catching her father and Rachel having sex, Anna became enraged, filled a watering can from a gasoline tank in the boathouse and carried it toward the house, intending to burn it with her father and Rachel inside. However, she didn't fully close the tap and it spilled a trail of gasoline that ignited when a candle fell over. Her mother was killed in the resulting explosion, as was Alex. It is revealed that Anna has symptoms of both severe schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder. Flashbacks reveal that Anna had been hallucinating Alex since she left the institution: this is why no one else had ever responded to Alex's presence; only Anna's. She remembers killing Matt (who did show up at their planned meeting) by letting him fall off the cliff because he saw what Anna had done. She also remembers killing Rachel, who was actually not a murderer but a kinder person; Anna had imagined her being homicidal and callous.

The next morning, as the police arrest Anna for murder, they question Steven, who reveals that Rachel changed her last name years ago to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend. At the mental institution, Anna is welcomed back by the patient across from her, whose name plate says "Mildred Kemp".



In 2002, producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produced the hit horror film The Ring, a remake of the Japanese film Ring. They subsequently produced the film's successful sequel The Ring Two in 2005. Since first starting this new cycle of Asian horror film adaptations, Parkes and MacDonald searched for a project they felt was as ingeniously conceived and executed as The Ring, and finally found it when producer Roy Lee brought the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters to their attention.

When A Tale of Two Sisters played in US theatres, directors Tom and Charlie Guard had acquired the English language remake rights. The Guard Brothers had previously directed commercials and short films, and wanted to expand into feature films.

In June 2006, DreamWorks announced that a deal had been set up for the US version of A Tale of Two Sisters. The new film was a presentation of DreamWorks and Cold Spring Pictures (Disturbia), and was produced by Parkes, MacDonald and Lee. The screenplay was written by Craig Rosenberg (After the Sunset, Lost), Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (The Great Raid).[3]

In early 2008, the film, whose working title had been A Tale of Two Sisters, was renamed to The Uninvited.[4]

The film was released in North American theatres on 30 January 2009.

Shooting locationEdit

Although the film is set in Maine, it was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. Most of the film was shot at one location, a waterfront property on British Columbia's Bowen Island, a short ferry ride west from mainland Vancouver.

Producer Walter F. Parkes said, of the shooting location:

Eighty percent of the story takes place at the house, so we couldn't make the movie without the right one. It couldn't have been more important. We scouted Louisiana, an environment which is both beautiful and slightly threatening. We had two houses which were terrible compromises, but both of them fell through. We had a difficult time finding anything that had both the connection to the story and the right logistical possibilities. But then we were lucky to find in Canada a place that seemed as if it had been built for our movie. It was perfectly evocative and suggestive of a family that is both welcoming and forbidding. The fact that the house was within 30 miles of Vancouver was a greater plus than the minus of having to get everyone on boats to get them over there; water taxis and ferries are a way of life up there. In fact, I don’t remember ever having a more pleasant time on a location. Getting onto a boat and having a cup of coffee and then going up the little pier and the stairs we built, it focused us. We were isolated with one thing on our minds, which was making this movie. It was great.[5]

It is reported that a two-storey boathouse in the film was built on the property overlooking the water just for several scenes. The cold water is rough and unappealing; it is a greenish-grey that crashes constantly and does not invite swimming.[6]


Emily Browning was hired to portray the lead Anna Ivers. She had originally auditioned for the role of Alex. The film is rated PG-13, and is visually less gory and bloody than the original film.[6] Elizabeth Banks plays the role of the stepmother, Rachel.[7] Banks based her character Rachel on Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.[8] "It was very important to me that every line reading I gave could be interpreted two ways," says Banks of her role, "so that when you go back through the movie you can see that."[8] David Strathairn plays the concerned father of the two girls.[9] Arielle Kebbel plays Anna's older sister, Alex Ivers.[10]


The original score for the film was composed by Christopher Young, who recorded it with a 78-piece orchestra and 20-person choir. His score features a glass harmonica, and the Yale Women's Slavic Chorus.[11]

Sara Niemietz is the vocalist for the soundtrack and film score,[12] after having previously working with Christopher Young in the same capacity on The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005).[13] Now an adult, she is an independent artist and cast-member of Postmodern Jukebox.[14]


Box officeEdit

On its opening day, the film grossed $4,335,000 and ranked #2 in the box office.[15] It got $10,512,000 for its opening weekend, set on the third place, opened in 2,344 theaters with an average $4,485 per theatre.[16] The film spent nine weeks in US cinemas, and finished with a total gross of $28,596,818. It did fairly moderately for a horror film in the US markets.[17] The film was released on March 26, 2009, in Australia, and it opened at the fifth position, averaging $3,998 at 121 sites, for a gross of A$483,714. The second week it dipped 29%.

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 32% based on reviews from 129 critics, with an average rating of 4.55/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "The Uninvited is moody and reasonably involving, but suffers from predictable plot twists."[18] On Metacritic it has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100 based on 24 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average" reception.[19] In Yahoo! Movies Critical Response, the average professional critical rating was a C according to 11 reviews.[20][dead link] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B on scale of A to F.[21]

Dennis Harvey of Variety wrote: "Weak even by the standard of uninspired recent Asian-horror remakes, The Uninvited is more likely to induce snickers and yawns than shudders and yelps."[22] Kim Newman of Empire magazine gave it 2 out of 5 and called it a "Poor remake of the Korean thriller."[23]Bloody Disgusting gave the film 6 out of 10.[24]

Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4, with particular praise for Browning: "She makes an ideal heroine for a horror movie: innocent, troubled, haunted by nightmares, persecuted by a wicked stepmother, convinced her real mother was deliberately burned to death. She makes you fear for her, and that's half the battle." Ebert also had positive notes for the cinematography, the casting of Strathairn. He expressed surprise at the PG-13 rating, and cited this film as evidence that MPAA rates films based on the absence of sex, nudity, or foul language, rather than the imagery it does contain that might actually be inappropriate for younger viewers.[25] Claudia Puig of USA Today gave it a positive review and wrote: "Don't be too quick to turn down The Uninvited. A stylish horror thriller in the vein of "The Ring," it's well-acted, frightening and handsomely produced."[26]


  1. ^ "Executive Suite: Tom Pollock and Ivan Reitman". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  2. ^ "The Uninvited (2009) - Financial Information". The Numbers (website). Retrieved 2020-10-20.
  3. ^ Scifi Japan(December 26, 2007). Two Brothers remake Two Sisters. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  4. ^ "Announcement of title change". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16.
  5. ^ Scifi Japan (December 26, 2008). "The Perfect House." Scifi Japan. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Heidi Martinuzzi(January 05, 2009). "An Invitation to the Set of The Uninvited." Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  7. ^ Heidi Sam Baltrusisi(January 11, 2009). "Elizabeth Banks gets wicked in 'The Uninvited' ." Loadgun Boston. Retrieved on January 18, 2009.
  8. ^ a b "Elizabeth Banks: The Uninvited". 30 January 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Brad Miska (June 22, 2007). "David Strathairn Stars Opposite Banks in 'Two Sisters' Remake". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
  10. ^ Arieanna Schweber (December 30, 2008). "Arielle Kebbel in “The Uninvited” ." Gilmore Girl news. Retrieved on January 18, 2009. Archived January 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Goldwasser, Dan (June 3, 2008). "Christopher Young scores the horror film The Uninvited". Retrieved June 3, 2008.
  12. ^ The Uninvited at AllMusic. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  13. ^ The Exorcism of Emily Rose at AllMusic. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  14. ^ "Sara Niemietz Archives". Postmodern Jukebox. Archived from the original on 2020-11-01. Retrieved 2020-11-01.
  15. ^ "Daily Box Office for Friday, January 30, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  16. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from January 30 – February 1, 2009". Box Office Mojo. February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  17. ^ "The Uninvited (2009) – Daily Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "The Uninvited (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Uninvited Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 20, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Uninvited (2009): Reviews". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  21. ^ "UNINVITED, THE (2009) B". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  22. ^ Harvey, Dennis (30 January 2009). "The Uninvited". Variety.
  23. ^ Newman, Kim (13 December 2008). "The Uninvited". Empire (film magazine).
  24. ^ "The Uninvited (A Tale of Two Sisters remake): Review". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2009.
  25. ^ Ebert, Roger (January 28, 2009). "An angel-faced teenage girl in a nightmare of horror". Chicago Sun-Times.
  26. ^ Claudia Puig. "'The Uninvited' turns out to be a pretty scary visitor". USA Today.

External linksEdit