In this suspense thriller based on a 2003 Korean film written and directed by Kim Jee-woon, Anna (Emily Browning) returns home after spending time in a psychiatric facility following her mother’s tragic death only to discover that her mother’s former nurse, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), has moved into their home and become engaged to her father, Steven (David Strathairn).
Soon after she learns this news, Anna is visited by her mother’s ghost, who warns her that Rachel has evil intentions. Together, Anna and her sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) must convince their father that his new fiancee is not who she pretends to be, and a happy family reunion becomes a lethal battle of wills between the daughters and their about-to-be stepmother.
The girls reconnect in their dislike for their father’s new love interest – a situation only heightened by his inability to bond emotionally with them. The situation is further exacerbated when Rachel sets about trying to erase all presence of the girls’ deceased mother from the house – a move which pitches the sisters into heightened conflict mode. While the film does benefit from atmospheric and doom-laden settings courtesy of cinematographer Dan Landin and an arresting original score by Christopher Young, the mixture of spectral visions, malign messages and mysterious family animosity fails to ignite this into anything decently suspenseful.
But while much of the film sticks with a standard suspense formula, the ending is a good surprise that probably only a few will guess.