[12 August 2010]
PopMatters Features Editor
So, here’s what is quoted on the back of this DVD version of the other horror movie called The Uninvited that came out last year: “Badway certainly has a cinematic eye. And Marguerite Moreau gives a fully realized… performance.” This bit of praise is attributed to none other than PopMatters’ own Bill Gibron. Problem is, I remember reading Bill’s review of this film, and he hated it. So, I sought it out, and was reminded that he had indeed given it a 3 out of 10, calling it “awful” and “confusing” and complaining that it “just doesn’t add up.” What gives?
Here’s what Bill actually wrote in his review, “‘Uninvited’ is an Unwelcome Horror Houseguest”, ellipses replaced by the words he really used: “For all his narrative incompetence, Badway certainly has a cinematic eye. The movie looks good, the frequent fantasy sequences showing a wonderful use of exteriors and color. And Ms. Moreau is not just phoning it in. She gives a fully realized, if factually confusing, performance.” In other words, Bill was saying that, although the film is baffling and inessential, here are the things about it that are not completely crappy.
Well, it turns out that it’s hard to approach a film using a thumbs-down review on its DVD cover without a certain degree of negative expectation. Still (sigh), I persevered. Here’s what I learned: this movie is about something, I’m pretty sure, but I don’t know what it is. The plot revolves around Lee (the lovely Marguerite Moreau), a woman with a bizarre (and made up) phobia of “space” – not claustrophobia or agoraphobia, but something more like being afraid to take in your surroundings – who is married to a documentary filmmaker (Colin Hay, from the ‘80s band Men at Work, because why not?). They live in a country house, and appear not to have neighbours.
One day, a teenage girl shows up, and Lee observes her receiving a bunch of money from her husband. This should really bother her, but she doesn’t much care, and then he goes away and leaves her alone for awhile, at which point her phobia comes back full force. She soon discovers the house she’s in is haunted by dead baby-eaters, and that her husband has actually bought a baby from this young girl and will be selling it to Satanists (perhaps) who want to eat it—or something.
I’m leaving the last bit vague because the movie offers us almost nothing in the way of information on that score. Indeed, the last act is so baffling that it’s possible the whole movie was actually a dream, or something even less satisfying. Either way, you’ll walk out with no clue as to what you just experienced, and not even in an Inception-y way.
The problem with films when their plots don’t make any sense is that we don’t care much about watching them. This is rather fundamental. Regardless of the occasional moments of very effective creepiness – imagine, they could have used that last bit on their posters – we simply do not care about anything, or anyone, in this thing. I happen to adore Marguerite Moreau, and have ever since I saw her in Wet Hot American Summer, but even my boundless good will for her work can’t help her out of scenes where nothing meaningful seems to be happening. Avoid this one, folks.
The DVD comes with a commentary track from writer/director Bob Badway which sheds a little light on the difficulties they encountered making this low budget misfire, but which I can’t imagine anyone being terrifically interested to sit through.