The past several years has seen a rise in gutless, PG-13 horror films aimed at what I presume to be a more squeamish younger generation, perhaps a counter-programming for fare like "Saw" and "Hostel," where extreme mainstream violence is the norm.
But I have to be the one to say it, but I have to: when I was a kid, horror movies had teeth. None of this sissied up ghosts popping out of nowhere, saying "boo!" and going away. I came from the era of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger, where villains actually did more than tried to scare the characters.
"The Uninvited" certainly falls into the former category. Like many horror movies, it's an allegory on emerging into (or out of) puberty, especially young girl, but isn't
Teen Anna (Emily Browning) has just gotten out of a mental hospital, griefstricken at the death of her long-ill mother. She returns home to find her dad (the curiously-cast David Strathairn, who must have owed someone a favor) has taken up with her mom's old nurse (a skulking Elizabeth Banks).
Anna takes up with her older sister (Arielle Kebbel) and the pair just know the soon-to-be-stepmom is just not right.
Of course, her dad doesn't believe Anna, nor do the police or anyone else for that matter.
In the meantime, though, Anna starts seeing nightmarish images, from her mother's ghost to apparitions of creepy young kids (you can almost see studio execs off camera checking off of their "to rip off" list).
The ghosts appear to Anna, do something vaguely menacing (but never touch her), emit a overproduced shrieking sound effect, and disappear.
And since "The Sixth Sense" and "The Others" are two of the movies on that list, there's a twisty ending that effectively makes the entire film pointless.
In the pantheon of teen mixed-signal-producing films, "The Uninvited" would be a good companion piece with the Ashton Kutcher film "The Butterfly Effect," whose overriding moral seems to be "the world would be better without you in it," as "Uninvited" tells young girls that they're a) crazy, b) a burden on their parents and ruin their lives, and c) aren't capable of making their own decisions.
Extras for the film include a less-effective alternate ending, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette.