Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Uninvited


Dir: Lewis Allen (Appointment with Danger; Suddenly)

I do have a soft spot for movies like this. The Uninvited is a horror movie from the 40's, and as as such has no recourse to expensive special effects. Like The Haunting (reviewed earlier on I Just Saw), tension grows through the simple use of sound effects and brilliant editing. A woman crying in the dead of night, a door slamming shut, the use of shadow in a cold room, all are satisfying techniques that utilize almost no technology whatsoever. That approach to horror, speaking personally, makes it much easier to suspend my disbelief and accept the world of the characters.

The story surrounds a brother and sister who buy a house where, gasp, some terrible deaths occured. The daughter of the previous owner is drawn to the house, and we learn that she is at the center of a ghostly tug-of-war between the house's two other wordly inhabitants. Along the way, the film makes an interesting detour into psychiatry, reflecting the often gruesome and neglectful ways that the institutionalized were treated at the time.

I was very pleased to see the film avoid a personal pet peeve. While the stock skepticism is found earlier in the story, once it is clear to everyone that there are indeed ghosts about, all of the characters reorient their worldviews to account for paranormal activity. Often, films keep the token skeptic around way too long, making speeches about how gusts of wind threw that entire cabinet of dishes out the window and how "there must be a rational explanation for all this" or some other sillyness. The Uninvited is able to focus more on the back story of the ghosts than on proving their existence to the audience.

Much of The Uninvited is merely OK. The story is passable, the acting relaxed if uninspiring, even the scary scenes pale in comparison to The Haunting. But as I said, I rather like these kinds of movies. I have spent less interesting hours in my life.

Slightly recommended.