Uninvited, The (1944) d. Allen, Lewis (USA)
While acknowledged as one of the first films to deal with ghosts and hauntings in a “serious” manner (i.e. not turning out to be a trick played upon the living by the living), those expecting to be truly frightened may be slightly disappointed by this tale of a spirit haunting the coastal English residence newly inhabited by siblings Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey. While the picture certainly has some fine moments of suspense and supernatural goings-on, viewers would do well to place it within its historical context to fully appreciate its reputation, especially since Victor Young’s whimsical score and Milland’s light-comic approach often undo any real sense of dread or horror.
That said, the acting is commendable, the characterizations interesting and believable, and the mimosa-scented atmosphere turns appropriately darker as the story deepens. Several haunted house precedents are set here: Ghostly moanings, a terrific séance scene, and a family history that must be unraveled by the living in order to let the dead rest at peace.
Perhaps not a nail-biter for the Poltergeist or Paranormal Activity generations, but still a well-told tale that does the job with good old-fashioned storytelling and character work. Script by Dodie Smith and Frank Partos, based upon Dorothy Macardle's novel Uneasy Freehold.