American remakes of Asian thrillers have become so commonplace that they're essentially a subgenre unto themselves. Films like The Ring and The Grudge—perhaps the highest profile movies in this subset—inspired a whole slew of imitators, not all of which are actually based on Asian source material, but, interestingly enough, that doesn't really matter. So numerous are these movies, and, frankly, so similar are they to one another, that comparing the remakes to the originals isn't nearly as helpful as comparing the remakes to other remakes, and to similar American imitations and knock-offs. Though the trend may have its roots in Asian suspense, it's basically an American phenomenon at this point.
So while it might be mentioned that The Uninvited is a remake of an Asian movie, comparing it to the original only takes one so far. The basic premise has a certain elasticity to it, allowing it to be told in a variety of different ways, and in fact, it's the kind of movie where the actual story isn't nearly as important as how that story is told. Like a good joke, the fun is in the build-up, and if this isn't done well, the punch-line doesn't have nearly the same punch. And in the case of this film, the telling of the story is hampered by one simple thing—the fact that it devotes just a bit too much attention to replicating the very American tropes of its genre, and not enough attention to building the suspense and menace that it requires.
I say a bit too much attention because, as far as this kind of movie goes, The Uninvited is not at all a bad movie—it's just not as good as it could be. The story is one of madness and psychological trickery, and, for it to be truly effective, it needs to be told in a way ...1
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