I must warn you. If you watch this movie expecting it to be another ghost story along the lines of “The Ring” or “The Eye” this will get zero stars from you. If you watch this movie expecting “Ordinary People” with ghosts you might get something more out of it.
The biggest stumbling point is that our film here doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be and the plot is both muddled and pedestrian beyond belief.
The story, in and of itself, is interesting. A successful architect, a few weeks away from marriage is riding the subway home after a long day of work. He falls asleep and wakes up to the announcement that the train has reached the last station and all passengers must disembark. He races to the exit just as the doors close, only to notice two little girls still asleep in the subway car. He then watches helplessly as the train pulls away from the station. Since he’s not able to do much about it, he goes home and tries not to give it another thought.
The next day, the newspapers announce that two little girls were found dead on the subway; their mother had poisoned them. The man is shocked and disturbed. He couldn’t have done anything of course, they were already dead by the time he saw their bodies, but still… something troubles him.
That night, he sees them in his kitchen.
What follows, is a movie with not a lot of scares but quite a few good ideas that unfortunately are never properly put forward. The concept that a person’s childhood can come back to haunt them and bring with it as much terror as any ghost is a good one, but the director/screenwriter Lee Soo-yeon seems to have no idea on how to present this to the audience. Nothing is put into context and nothing is explained. Instead he follows the Ringu/Eye template and has the hero running around trying to find the “truth” behind these apparitions, some of which may not be simple ghosts.
Are the things he’s seeing just in his mind? Did the sight of the dead children unlock a secret childhood memory? By the time we’ve reached any kind of conclusion on the matter, we’re mentally exhausted from trying to piece together what the hell is supposed to be going on. Some movies make the mistake of being all plot driven, which is the old stage play idea that if there’s a gun on the mantel, it’ll be used in the third act. Nothing is said or done that isn’t for the sole purpose of advancing story. This makes for a very bare-bones movie, which is an annoyance in its own right. However, “Uninvited” makes the exact opposite mistake. It meanders endlessly in all directions. For example: What do the two little girls on the subway have to do with anything? We’re never told. They seem to appear for the sole purpose of scaring the audience, nothing more. Then a bit later, we’re introduced to a psychic who just had a child murdered by her best friend. While the psychic does have some purpose in the plot, she could have been removed with almost no harm to the story. And the fact that she takes up a
HUGE chunk of the film when she has no real importance is telling of this movie’s problems. The woman seems to exist to create ambiance and to provide a Deus Ex Machina for the architect.
What we’re left with is a film that makes you fantasize about the much better film hidden within it. Like a secret memory.
NOTE: Almost two weeks after seeing “Uninvited”, it’s occurred to me how the two little girls and the psychic might be related. However, this is just me guessing, director Lee Soo-yeon gives absolutely NO hint of my suspicions at any time during the movie; and it’s this constant habit of being dense that’s made me decide to give the movie such a low grade. It’s very sad; this could have been a masterpiece.