In August of 2007, SCI FI Wire was invited to the set of The Uninvited. Back then, the supernatural horror movie was still called A Tale of Two Sisters, just like the Korean cult hit it's based on.
But even though we were flown and then ferried all the way to beautiful, lush Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada, to see the remake being shot, not a single frame was filmed the entire day. The weather was blamed. Poor weather; always being castigated for one thing or another, when it's just doing its job.
For the actors on location that day, it was the usual "hurry up and wait" routine. But at least they had us to talk to. Yes, we pulled out every verbal weapon in our journalistic arsenal, such as, "What was it like to work with Elizabeth Banks?" (I'm particularly proud of that one. I take all the credit.)
Blond, beautiful and now very bankable, Banks still had some of her most acclaimed performances ahead of her (W., Role Models) when we were on set on that chilly, rainy summer's day, but she was no less-loved by her costars--especially the pair of actresses who play her step-daughters, Arielle Kebbel (The Grudge 2) as Anna and Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket) as Alex. (You can see the two of them in the exclusive image from the movie provided to SCI FI Wire, above: Browing on the left and Kebbel on the right.)
While Browning did express her admiration for her on-screen mama, the two did have a mother of a fight scene that left them both bruised and battered, but not beaten. "It was intense," said Browning with a coy smile. "It was the first sort of action thing I've ever filmed. I don't know really what I can tell you without spoiling it, but it's, ... there was some bludgeoning involved."
The remake will be watered down to allowed for a more all-inclusive PG-13 rating, but the story is basically the same: Teen sisters reunite in their seafront home after one of them completes a stint in a mental home following the death of their mother. Once there, it's discovered that their father has too-quickly and unexpectedly remarried. Emotions come to a boil when it seems the new Mrs. Rydell has stirred up an unknown phantom's fury ... could it be their dead mother?
In the spirit of mystery, Banks wouldn't elaborate on her character's adversarial relationship with Browning, but she did say, "We'd go at each other, doing a lot of hand-to-hand combat fighting and running. ... I loved it. It's really fun. I like getting physical like that. We both had ice packs on everywhere and were trying to control swelling and making sure we weren't bruising [so we could keep shooting]. I'm proud of it. I hope it turns out."
Browning didn't seem to remember it being so much fun. "I could not imagine shooting an action film and having to do scenes like that every day. For the week after the fight, my whole body was just in pain. And it's not even the long scene; it's really quick!" Perhaps it'll be too quick for some of the male viewers, as Browning added, "That scene should be entertaining for a few reasons. I mean, it's two girls in not very much clothing beating each other up on the ground."
Browning portrays the hotheaded sister in the movie; Kebbel said she shows her deep feelings in a different way. "In the original film, there was a lot of, like, touching between the sisters and a certain very cool intimacy that they had in their relationship. It was really important to both of us that we kept that in [to show how close Anna and Alex are]. There's this bedroom scene in the original ... not that kind of bedroom scene! That sounds really kinky. But there's this scene where it shows they sleep together in the same bed, and that's something that sisters do."
Like the two girls in the movie, and the two maternal figures, a duo of opposite elements also plays an important role: Fire and water. There's a big fire scene in the boat house and another moment in which one of the young ladies dives into the freezing lake. (The latter is why we could see anything being filmed: It was slated for that day, and it was too rainy.) To say any more about how hot and cold play parts in the film would be to spoil, but Kebbel and Browning insist that in spite of the teen-pandering rating, some things are still sizzling. "Go and see this film," Kebbel laughed. "It's X-rated!"
Actually, Browning did seem a bit miffed that her tougher character couldn't even be shown smoking cigarettes. "She doesn't smoke," Kebbel confirmed. "We learned that you can't have that in a PG-13 film. In the original script, Alex smoked and cursed and drank a lot more, but that got deleted. My character, on the other hand, seems very tame at first. You know, they say in real life it takes 10 seconds to make a first impression. When you're on the screen, it's exactly the same thing. So it's really important to me to constantly be changing my characters physically, emotionally and vocally ... anything. And that's what's so fun about [acting], because I really haven't had the opportunity to do a part like this before. I never had the opportunity to put it on film, so it's good. Yay!" The Uninvited is in theaters nationwide on Jan. 30.