JANUARY 12, 2011
The other day I wrote an article for Badass Digest about the five horror movie plots I was sick of seeing, but if I had written it after today I would have replaced one with “Woman Confined To Her House Deals With Shit” (Repulsion, Solitary, 100 Feet, etc). I like them OK enough, but I realized about halfway through The Uninvited that I just don’t care to see one ever again, either.
On that note, I don’t want to see another movie called The Uninvited for a while, either. This is I think the 3rd or 4th for HMAD alone!
Of course, maybe I’d feel different if the movie was any good – “Yes, more women confined to their home movies!” But alas, after a promising (but slow) opening, the movie just flies way off the rails, getting worse and worse (and more confusing), as if the writer was suddenly paralyzed with fear that he might never make another horror movie and had to toss in as many tropes as he could.
Let’s see, in the first hour of the movie we pretty much only see Marguerite Moreau and her husband. Other characters, like her friend (or sister, couldn’t tell) appear briefly, but they appear long enough to say their lines and disappear. But the last 20 minutes or so – there’s an old lady eating a baby arm, a zombie looking dude, a monster, and probably other shit that I missed while double checking the info on the DVD player to make sure I was watching the same movie. And her husband’s assistant, who appeared once early on as well, suddenly hijacks the movie, rambling about her baby – it actually took me a moment to remember who she was, because her character was so insignificant. I guess it’s nice to be surprised, but I shouldn’t be wondering “Wait, did I miss like, 20 minutes of this movie where we even knew this girl HAD a baby?”
And the movie never really capitalizes on Moreau’s phobia, which was the best thing about the film. We’re told that it’s not exactly agoraphobia, but instead the extreme opposite of claustrophobia – she wasn’t even comfortable in her own home unless she was looking at a wall that was in close proximity to her. So she can’t even look at the ceiling, because it’s too far away. It’s an interesting hook for a movie – it’s not that she can’t go outside, she can’t even peek around a corner or she’ll freak out. But it’s never really used in the movie. And it’s really awkward – the film opens with portions of a documentary about her illness, and then when the documentary stuff ends, she’s totally fine in the present day. So you’re thinking – her phobia comes back due to the killer or whatever this movie’s horror angle is, right? Well, not entirely. She has lapses and momentarily freaks out, but it never seems to get as full blown as we saw in the documentary, rendering the illness rather extraneous to the story – why not just say she’s agoraphobic (which is something we understand) and spend less time having to explain it, and then use that time to develop the other characters?
Especially her husband, who comes across as a creep from minute one and... turns out to be the bad guy. I had his motive pegged wrong – the couple has money issues so I figured he was intentionally trying to drive her crazy again to profit off of it somehow (he was the guy who made the documentary – what a fucking sleaze!). But who could have predicted his motive, when it comes out of nowhere and makes absolutely no sense (something about a baby for Satanists)? On the commentary, the director says he could make a sequel concerning what the husband was doing for the bulk of the movie – I’m all for it, as long as someone else writes and directs it.
He also alludes that the house wasn’t entirely appropriate to what he had in mind (something about no light coming in so it looked dark at all times), but says nothing about why the last 30 minutes of the movie don’t make a lick of sense. And since they all involve heavy makeup and other effects, he can’t blame the budget – those things were a waste of money, as far as I’m concerned. The husband could come back home and things could be explained perfectly well, but instead he tosses in all of these ghost/monster things (real or imagined) which just confuse matters. As with the documentary/phobia stuff, he’s inserting stuff that just crowds the movie and keeps what’s actually working about it from shining through.
He also doesn’t bother resolving other plot points. At one point Moreau’s friend/sister claims she saw her husband behind her and waving (they’re using Skype or something along those lines), when he’s supposedly not even home. Explained? Not that I could tell. And her phobia was caused by a childhood tragedy of sorts, which also goes maddeningly underdeveloped; there’s more about the porch she wants to build on her historical house (another vague plot point involves some murders that occurred there). I swear, it’s like they made 3-4 different movies starring Marguerite Moreau and edited them together at random.
Using Final Cut Pro! During the documentary sequence we also see the husband editing (and adding a cross fade transition – fancy!) the movie, and it’s definitely FCP, and more than likely the same system the movie itself was edited on. I’m not an FCP fan (of the big three it’s my least favorite, but that’s mainly due to my general PC > Apple attitude), but I am always delighted to see editing software in movies. I also enjoyed the (I think) deliberately cheesy editing in the documentary, with the pretentious shot of the chair being turned to face the world over the end credits. Hell, I think I’d rather just watch this whole documentary – it should have been a bonus feature on the DVD (all that’s there is the commentary).
Oh well. Interesting premise, admirably batshit twist, and Moreau carries the film, but as a whole it was too jumbled and sloppy for me. Shitty sound editing too – learn how to transition room tone!
What say you?