Anna (Emily Browning) has been in a psychiatric institution for ten months, following her suicide attempt after her terminally ill mother died in a boathouse fire. Upon her discharge, she has no memory of the event but frequently suffers related nightmares. While packing, Anna is startled by a disturbing, talkative patient from the room across the hall. Shortly after, she leaves with her father, Steven (David Strathairn), a writer who has dedicated his latest book to Anna and her sister.
At home, Anna reunites with her sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), with whom she is very close. The sisters stand against Steven's girlfriend Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), who had been their mother's live-in nurse. Alex criticizes Steven for sleeping with Rachel while the girls' mother was still alive and sick in bed but he does not respond. Anna describes to Alex how scenes from her dreams have started happening while she is awake. The sisters become convinced that the hallucinations are messages from their mother, telling them that she was murdered by Rachel.
Anna catches up with her old boyfriend, Matt (Jesse Moss), who tells her that he saw what happened the night of the fire. They secretly planned to meet that night, but Matt fails to show up and Anna returns home. In her room, Anna awakens to find him climbing into her window, saying that she needs to know the truth and that he had a warning from her mother. They kiss but then Anna notices Matt's body suddenly warping and his back breaking. Anna flees from the room in fear but when she opens the door, he is gone. The next morning, Matt's dead body is pulled out of the water, his back broken. The police assume he fell and drowned.
The sisters are unable to find a record of Rachel with the State Nursing Association and conclude she is actually Mildred Kemp, a nanny who killed the three children she looked after because she had an obsession with their widowed father. They try to warn their father, but he ignores their concerns and leaves for work. The girls try to gather evidence against Rachel to show the police but Rachel catches them and sedates Alex. Anna escapes and goes to the local police station, but they do not believe her claims and call Rachel, who sedates Anna and takes her home.
As Rachel puts a disoriented Anna in bed, Anna sees Alex in the doorway with a knife and then passes out. She wakes to find that Alex has killed Rachel and thrown her body into a dumpster. As the girls comfort each other, a horrified Steven arrives and asks what happened. Anna explains that Rachel tried to murder her and her sister but Alex saved their lives by killing Rachel. Steven is confused; he explains that Alex died in the fire along with her mother. Anna then notices that she is not holding her sister's hand, but the bloody knife used to murder Rachel.
Anna finally remembers what happened on the night of the fire. After catching her father and Rachel having sex, Anna became enraged and filled a watering can from a large gasoline tank in the boathouse, intending to set them and the house on fire. She did not close the tap properly and a trail of gasoline was ignited by a falling candle. Her mother and Alex were killed in the resulting explosion. Flashbacks reveal that Anna had been hallucinating Alex since she left the institution. She remembers killing Matt—who did show up at their planned meeting—by letting him fall and break his back. She also remembers killing Rachel, who was surprisingly a kinder person than she had imagined.
As the police arrest Anna for murder, Steven is questioned by an officer. He explains that Rachel changed her name years ago to escape an abusive boyfriend.
At the institution, Anna is welcomed back by the patient across the hall that scared her earlier; the name plate on her door reads "Mildred Kemp".Emily Browning as Anna
Arielle Kebbel as Alex
Elizabeth Banks as Rachel
David Strathairn as Steven
Jesse Moss as Matt
Maya Massar as Mom
Kevin McNulty as Sheriff Emery
Lex Burnham as Iris
Danny Bristol as Samuel
Matthew Bristol as David
Don S. Davis as Mr. Henson
Heather Doerksen as Mildred Kemp
Dean Paul Gibson as Dr. Silberling
In 2002, producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produced the hit horror film, The Ring, a remake of the Japanese film Ring. They subsequently produced the film's successful sequel The Ring Two in 2005. Since first starting this new cycle of Asian horror film adaptations, Parkes and MacDonald searched for a project they felt was as ingeniously conceived and executed as The Ring, and finally found it when producer Roy Lee brought the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters to their attention.
When A Tale of Two Sisters played in US theaters, directors Tom and Charlie Guard had acquired the English language remake rights. The Guard Brothers had previously directed commercials and short films, and wanted to expand into feature films.
In June 2006, DreamWorks announced that a deal had been set up for the US version of A Tale of Two Sisters. The new film was a presentation of DreamWorks and Cold Spring Pictures (Disturbia), and was produced by Parkes, MacDonald and Lee. The screenplay was written by Craig Rosenberg (After the Sunset, Lost), Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (The Great Raid).
In early 2008, the film, whose working title had been A Tale of Two Sisters, was renamed to The Uninvited.
The film was released in North American and Canadian theaters on January 30, 2009.
Although the film is set in Maine, it was shot in Vancouver, British Columbia. Most of the film was shot at one location, a waterfront property on British Columbia's Bowen Island, a short ferry ride west from mainland Vancouver.
Producer Walter F. Parkes said, of the shooting location:
It is reported that a two-story boathouse in the film was built on the property overlooking the water just for several scenes. The cold water is rough and unappealing; it is a greenish-gray that crashes constantly and does not invite swimming.
Emily Browning was hired to portray the lead Anna Ivers. She had originally auditioned for the role of Alex. The film is rated PG-13, and is visually less gory and bloody than the original film. Elizabeth Banks plays the role of the stepmother, Rachel. Banks based her character Rachel on Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. "It was very important to me that every line reading I gave could be interpreted two ways," says Banks of her role, "So that when you go back through the movie you can see that." David Strathairn plays the concerned father of the two girls. Arielle Kebbel plays Anna's older sister, Alex Ivers.
The original score for the film was composed by Christopher Young, who recorded it with a 78-piece orchestra and 20-person choir. His score features a glass harmonica, and the Yale Women's Slavic Chorus.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reported that 32% out of 126 surveyed critics gave favorable reviews, and the average score was 4.5/10. The consensus was "The Uninvited is moody and reasonably involving, but suffers from predictable plot twists." Metacritic assigned a rating of 43/100 from 24 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average" reception. Bloody Disgusting gave the film 6/10 while on Yahoo! Movies Critical Response, the average professional critical rating was a C according to 11 reviews.
On its opening day, the film grossed $4,335,000 and ranked #2 in the box office. However, it finally got $10,512,000 for its opening weekend, set on the third place, opened in 2,344 theaters with an average $4,485 per theatre. The film spent nine weeks in U.S. cinemas, and finished with a total gross of $28,596,818. It did fairly moderately for a horror film in the US markets. The film was released on March 26, 2009 in Australia, and the film opened at the fifth position, averaging $3,998 at 121 sites, for a gross of A$483,714. The second week it dipped 29%.