Wednesday, June 26, 2013

THE UNINVITED (1944) movie review

Uninvited, The (1944) d. Allen, Lewis (USA)

While acknowledged as one of the first films to deal with ghosts and hauntings in a “serious” manner (i.e. not turning out to be a trick played upon the living by the living), those expecting to be truly frightened may be slightly disappointed by this tale of a spirit haunting the coastal English residence newly inhabited by siblings Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey. While the picture certainly has some fine moments of suspense and supernatural goings-on, viewers would do well to place it within its historical context to fully appreciate its reputation, especially since Victor Young’s whimsical score and Milland’s light-comic approach often undo any real sense of dread or horror.

That said, the acting is commendable, the characterizations interesting and believable, and the mimosa-scented atmosphere turns appropriately darker as the story deepens. Several haunted house precedents are set here: Ghostly moanings, a terrific séance scene, and a family history that must be unraveled by the living in order to let the dead rest at peace.

Perhaps not a nail-biter for the Poltergeist or Paranormal Activity generations, but still a well-told tale that does the job with good old-fashioned storytelling and character work. Script by Dodie Smith and Frank Partos, based upon Dorothy Macardle's novel Uneasy Freehold.


  1. Hey, Doc, go easy. Back in the day there were "Monster Movies", but the "genre" of Horror as we know it today hadn't even been invented when this picture was made. This isn't "horror" - it's a good old fashioned "ghost story", and (for my money) the finest example of it's kind. Just sayin'.

    1. Oh, I'm not putting the movie down at all. I just wanted to prepare viewers for the fact that it's not all that scary, especially for modern sensibilities. As you mention, I think it's important to watch it within its historical context. But make no mistake, I LOVE this film, so much so that I included it in the book HORROR 101: The A-List of Horror Films and Monster Movies.

  2. I don't know if you've heard, but Criterion has announced that it's going to be adding this film to the Collection come October. About time, too.