SPOILERS WILL BE INVOLVED IN THIS REVIEW
An American remake of the Korean movie 'A Tale of Two Sisters'. Normally, for a movie like this, I would avoid spoiling it, but the twist is such a huge part of why I didn't/did enjoy the movie, I felt I had to make note of it.
Originally, the commercials and trailers for this made it seem like a very pedestrian wicked stepmother tale, and I wasn't sure what to make of Elizabeth Banks in that role. She was the sweet damsel in distress in 'Slither', and bubbly but poor would-be porn actress in 'Zack & Miri Make a Porno'; neither of those roles would indicate she could play the evil bitch.
I want to skip right to the spoilers because at two points in the movie I said "We already know who it is, so what's the point?" and "I hate how often this device is used to point characters to the villain." I was wrong on both those points, and was pleasantly surprised by the fact.
I know a ton of people will say "Oh, I knew it right from the start," but as I was dividing my time between watching this and making dinner, I wasn't looking for those hints. I was well and truly surprised at the end, and it made me smile (it's not a happy ending--I was just happy to be proven wrong in my criticisms).
As I said, the trailers made this look like a completely different movie, and really didn't do it justice, but they couldn't. The whole movie hinges on the twist, and while knowing said twist doesn't make the movie bad, it lowers the impact of that important initial viewing. There is no supernatural hanky-panky going on here, which is a wonderful change from the slew of other Asian horror/thriller remakes that have come out.
This is an unfortunate tale of jealousy and mental illness, not ghosts and wicked stepmothers, and at the end I felt pity for all the characters.
Overall I would say this is a piece for Elizabeth Banks to show her versatility in more than anything. She's great as the menacing stepmother, with some wonderfully subtle acting (the funeral, the way her mouth moves just _so_, that you know she's smiling without actually smiling), then with a perspective shift, she's the concerned nurse just trying to do her best by the family.
If you were unsure of the movie by the trailers, give it a shot, and try not to be turned off by the obviousness of what you're seeing. While she won't win awards for it, this is a nice stepping stone for Banks.
Definitely looking forward to seeing her again.