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HBO presents
The Uninvited Guest (2004)

"Police! There’s someone in my house."
- Felix (Andoni Gracia)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 21, 2006

Stars: Mónica López, Andoni Gracia
Other Stars: Francesc Garrido, Minnie Marx, Augustí Villaronga
Director: Guillem Morales

MPAA Rating: R for (some strong sexual content, violence, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:49m:05s
Release Date: August 22, 2006
UPC: 026359332029
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+AA- D-

DVD Review

There are very few feelings that can compare to being completely blindsided by a practically unknown film. These days, with reviews appearing sometimes weeks before a film's release, it's relatively easy to generate expectations. However, when something flies under the radar like 2004's The Uninvited Guest, thriller fans will discover a mere 15 minutes in that this is one of the most amazing genre films of the decade. Spanish director Guillem Morales has created a tight, wildly suspenseful movie that never lets up and always keeps us guessing—he never truly tips his hand as to what his real intentions are until the last, unforgettable moments.

Morales' film harkens back to classic Hitchcock, but he's taken numerous steps to ensure that he isn't simply borrowing from the master. What seems like a simple premise becomes more and more complex around every turn. We first meet Felix (Andoni Gracia) and Vera (Mónica López) amid a collection of recently packed boxes in the middle of their huge, recently remodeled house. Vera is moving out as it appears that Felix's extensive work on the house has put a wedge in their relationship. Now alone, Felix is visited by a man who asks to use his phone, then disappears. Felix believes that this man is hiding in his house somewhere, and, once he discovers the man might be his neighbor, Martin (Augustí Villaronga), he sneaks next door to spy on Martin's paralyzed wife, Claudia (also Mónica López).

Both lead actors are phenomenal, delivering equally strong performances that require quite a bit from them. Mónica López is simply brilliant in both of her roles, showing an amazing chemistry with Gracia and making it easy to forget that this is, indeed, the same actress behind these two distinct personalities. And if the high level of suspense isn't involving enough, we get a bit of a break from the nail-biting and witness one of the best choreographed sequences you'll ever see in a thriller. López and Gracia must have spent quite some time getting this sequence down, but they seamlessly pull off a sort of dance around Claudia's house as Felix has to duck in and out of numerous rooms to keep from being discovered. It's quite often that such scenes suffer from unsatisfying payoffs, but the climax of this 10-minute slice of magic is inspired.

Every piece of the story fits together like an extremely complex puzzle. This isn't to say that each twist and plot point is entirely plausible, but suspense films are rarely about what happens in reality. Much of the joy here is how it allows the audience to suspend disbelief. However, the root of this picture's effectiveness lies in its ability to grab you from the opening five minutes onto its ultimate roller coaster ride. The ending is a whopper that will fuel hours of discussion. Genre fans will see the big twist coming from the halfway point on, but Morales is to be commended for seeing it through to the very end. Fortunately, perseverance pays off in spades. Despite the predictability, the final scene floored me, as everything leading up to that point is so edge-of-your-seat intense that it's easy to forget what had been deduced earlier on. The Uninvited Guest is an incredible discovery, and here's hoping we get much more from this up-and-coming director soon.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is nearly as surprising as the film itself. Everything looks amazing, from the crystal clear, sharp images, to the dead-on color scheme. The aforementioned sequence with Felix hiding from Claudia benefits from deep, solid blacks and well-handled shadow levels that work very well in this dark, claustrophobic setting. There's the slightest bit of grain, but that's all as far as blemishes or print flaws go.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio plays a huge part in Moralles’ master plan, and, despite the added depth that a 5.1 mix would have brought to the table, the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that is here doesn’t disappoint. Each and every subtle creak and movement that Felix hears in the house is crisp and blends in well with the rest of the mix, creating an ultra-creepy feel. The dialogue never falters either, and is always crystal clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are no extras on this release.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

Guillem Morales' The Uninvited Guest is a shocking thriller that needs to be seen, and HBO Home Video makes this possible via this technically superior DVD. Featuring topnotch audio and video presentations, it's too bad there are no supporting materials included in this release.

 


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