10 November 2006 | BaronBl00d
Subtle, Stylish Ghost Classic
Add a beautiful, mysterious Cornish seascape - with cliff and huge house standing alone. Add the likes of veteran actors like Ray Milland, Donald Crisp, Ruth Hussey, Alan Napier, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and a charming newcomer in Gail Russell. Throw in the eerie, suspenseful story of a house with a secret - a house that is worth much, much more than it sells for but is sold for a song to new neighbors Milland and Hussey as siblings. Stir in the ever present, keen eye for mixing atmosphere with action by director Lewis Allen and a thought-provoking, interesting albeit somewhat predictable script by Dodie Smith (based on a popular novel by Dorothy Macardle). For extra measure and a stronger ghostly flavour, present a séance, an asylum for the mentally ill, a true cliffhanger, and of course ghosts with work left to do after they have NOT shuffled off this mortal coil. All these ingredients make a fine film called The Univited, a Paramount release that really tries to be a true ghost story with emphasis on atmosphere rather than action. Though the film has a few stretches which might have been enhanced a bit more with some more action, the film's overall quality succeeds in its goals. The Uninvited is a first-rate ghost story about a secret this solitary, palatial house has, and it creates its suspense with things like creaking doors, lights faintly moving, wind blowing windows in(or out), barely audible whispers floating in the air, and ethereal images casting their ghostly shadows for the living's visual consumption. Ray Milland is as ever very affable in the lead role and Gail Russell as the focus of the ghost intrigue is beautiful and talented. Hussey, Skinner, and Napier do very good jobs with the material, but Donald Crisp as Russell's strong-willed father makes the biggest impression. If you are looking for something that has all the trappings of a sophisticated haunted house film - The Uninvited is it.