And home she goes, to a beautiful seven-gabled house perched atop a hill overlooking the Maine coast. Her father (David Strathairn) is a novelist, her older sister, Alex (Arielle Kebbel), is a smartass, and Rachel (Elizabeth Banks) was the caregiver for Anna's ailing, now-dead mom.
Having redecorated the kitchen and sidled into bed with the widower Rydell, Rachel is now very much a part of Anna's home. And Anna, although she tries, can't quite make the adjustment.
Anna's sister, it seems, doesn't care for her either.
"She's like a crack whore, but without the dignity," quips Alex in one of The Uninvited's wittier moments.
With visual nods to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and a fairly faithful adherence to the tenor and tone of the Korean scare genre, The Uninvited doesn't startle and shock so much as it lulls you into a series of unsettling, hallucinogenic set pieces. Even the initally jarring presence of Banks - a mainstay of the Judd Apatow sex comedy machine - begins to become, well, uninteresting.
At a certain key point in the drama, The Sixth Sense might come to mind - but by then your mind could very well be on to other places, other ideas. There's not a whole lot beyond the pretty scenery (not really Maine, but the Pacific Northwest) and Browning's pop-eyed, fragile expression to keep you focused on the matters, and murder, at hand.
The Uninvited **1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Charles Guard and Thomas Guard. With Emily Browning, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Banks. Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour, 27 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, horror, sex, profanity, adult themes)
Playing at: area theaters
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.