4 days to Halloween: The Uninvited

, | Movie reviews

(Kelly Wand and some other folks will help close out the Halloween series. And please remember that these aren’t necessarily great movies. We endorse them only as relatively obscure horror movies with something to recommend them.)

2008’s “The Uninvited,” directed and written by the aptly named Bob Badway and starring the delectably dark-eyed Marguerite Moreau, is an undistinguished title for any horror movie, since it’s generally assumed that most paranormal pains in the ass aren’t invited guests, except at seances, and even then they’re not even guests but more like unpaid magician entertainers. Good to know that if you’re murdered, you get to spend the rest of eternity waiting around for New Age douchebags to hold a dinner party and make you do a bunch of stupid pet tricks for their amusement. Actually, maybe only the ghosts of dogs show up at seances. That would explain a lot. Trust only psychics who eerily intone, “Here boy!”

After the jump, it gets worse/better

“The Uninvited” is an even shittier title because it’s also the name of a 2009 release with another gifted hottie, Elizabeth Banks, and they’re also over-similar in that they both feature unreliable female narrators and confusing, convoluted third acts that think we give a shit about backstory when it comes to horror (Hi, “Ring”).

Horror’s a challenging genre in that it’s remarkably hard to do well but an economically awesome one because cheaper equals scarier, always (Hi, Jan de Bont’s “Haunting” remake). That’s why the minimalist 1973 “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is scary and the 2010 remake isn’t. The house in the 2010 one’s so creepy, exotic, and humongous, frankly it’d be weirder if there weren’t demons living in its chimney. And kids, of course, make the worst possible horror movie protagonists because you know nothing’s going to happen to them, so any tension’s gone before the game even starts.

Badway gets that, bigtime. Women are perfect horror protagonists because there’s always a great scene where some patronizing male dumbass character treats her legitimate fears and piles of evidence with a condescending headshake, because he’s a sheriff/psychiatrist/plantation owner and he knows ghosts and serial killers can only be the imaginary products of menstrual delusions or implant seepage. On top of that, Moreau’s character in “The Uninvited” also has a history of insanity. So she and we spend most of the movie questioning how much of what we’re seeing is hallucinatory, including but not limited to leering demonic faces with blood trickling from their lips that peek out from her closet or under her bed for no discernible reason.

The catchy part is the nature of Moreau’s phobia. She’s not just agoraphobic, she can’t even bear interiors (the movie’s slogan is “Don’t Turn Around”) to the point where she has to sidle along walls with her back turned at all times to whatever’s in the room with her. Not ideal for finding work (or romance, you would think, although she’s married to a guy who made a documentary about her condition), let alone if you’re also being haunted and have human enemies out to fuck with you for reals, including a teenage girl played by Brittany Curran, who was also in this movie called The Adventures of Food Boy, which was about a dude whose superpower was that he could make food appear in his hands (presumably his avocados will be edible once he hits 70). Naturally, even though Moreau’s condition is so wacky everybody on earth has probably seen this documentary, she’s left alone for months on end by the husband who shot it. Then there’s a blackout. Most of the movie takes place during it.

Odds are excellent you’ll find the movie’s sustained state of deliberate bewilderment frustrating and, towards the end, tedious. You know Badway’s jerking your chain, and you know he knows you know it and doesn’t give a shit, so fuck him, you’ll think, I’ll just be like Moreau’s character and face the wall next time his fuckin dumbass movie’s on. But if you think about it, walls actually are pretty scary. Why else do we feel the need to mask them with stuff? Rooms are just square-shaped coffins. Don’t get me started on what bathrooms are.

Oh yeah, the husband documentarian’s played by the singer from Men at Work, Colin Hay. And he’s never been scarier.

(The Uninvited is available from Netflix here. Be careful not to mistake it with this.)

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