A brother and sister move into an old seaside house they find abandoned for many years on the English coast. Their original enchantment with the house diminishes as they hear stories of the previous owners and meet their daughter (now a young woman) who now lives as a neighbor with her grandfather. Also heard are unexplained sounds during the night. It becomes obvious that the house is haunted. The reasons for the haunting and how they relate to the daughter whom the brother is falling in love with, prove to be a complex mystery. As they are compelled to solve it, the supernatural activity at the house increases to a frightening level.
I went into this with high hopes because I’ve heard many people praise this as one of the greatest haunted house films ever. I just don’t see it. The first thing I notice is the music. It’s often very light and cheerful – totally ruins the horror mood. It also has a few comedic moments which just detract from what should’ve been purely serious in tone. This light tone is in the same vane as “Aresenic and Old Lace” but it works there because it’s not supernatural. The Uninvited IS supernatural so I feel that it’s out of place.
The story is very good and intricately woven. It’s very complex with several mysteries to solve. This movie is great if you enjoy being a sleuth. It’s not for those who only like simple stories with everything laid out from the beginning.
There is no gore involved, as to be expected in 1944, but it’s unnecessary here. Most horror movies today depend on gore and blood to cover up the weaker stories and acting. The Uninvited is good without it. There’s few SFX except for the ghosts. It’s purely story and character driven.
This movie is full of spooky atmosphere in the set and music. But it’s not continuous. It comes and goes which annoyed me but it’s not too bad in retrospect.
The acting is superb with no actors that are weaker than others. The cast is all great here. Ray Milland is always great and this is no exception. The actresses are great at acting and beautiful as well. Gail Russell is especially beautiful. Her life was tragically cut short at the age of 36 due to an alcohol-induced heart attack.
Overall, this is a good ghost movie. Now I think it’s good but not great. It is creepy at times but it just does not keep up steadily. The little comedic bits and one-liners totally ruin otherwise terrifying scenes. Don’t get me wrong, many horror fans will love this, I just don’t like it as much as most. Recommended for everyone, at least once. 3.5/5
Ray Milland …. Roderick Fitzgerald
Ruth Hussey …. Pamela Fitzgerald
Donald Crisp …. Commander Beech
Cornelia Otis Skinner …. Miss Holloway
Dorothy Stickney …. Miss Bird
Barbara Everest …. Lizzie Flynn
Alan Napier …. Dr. Scott
Gail Russell …. Stella Meredith
Dorothy Macardle (novel)