This, the inevitable American bastardization of a profoundly creepy and visually lush Korean horror gem, offers slightly more brain food than the average rampaging-madman-with-a-power-tool fare. The story’s your basic wicked stepmother, obsessed stalker scenario set within a haunted house. Emily Browning stars as the gamine Anna, newly released from the psych ward and trying to adjust to being back in her family’s tony New England beach house. Dad (David Strathairn) is a successful author, now shacked up with Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), the pretty young nurse who Anna suspects had a hand in her ill mother’s “accidental” death. Of course, it’s not just a hunch, since ghosts keep popping out of the shadows to spell out the problem for her. Anna is still coltish and shy, but her older sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel) is in full-on rebellious-bitch mode, and begins taking steps to oust the blond interloper who has roosted in their once cozy nest.
This soggy lutefisk out-of-water tale finds Renee Zellweger’s spunky corporate shark Lucy exiled from Miami to dinky, snow-bound New Ulm, Minn., where she’s hired to “modernize” a dairy processing plant, mainly through downsizing the workforce. The quirky townsfolk are on to her true intentions, but they’re such sweater-clad, “Minnesota nice” church folk that they attempt to extend a congenial mitten of friendship before stabbing her in the back. Cheerful town gossip Blanche (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) even invites Lucy over for a bit of meatloaf and matchmaking with snowplow-driving roughneck Ted (Harry Connick Jr., looking dumpy). They clash, of course, especially because he’s the local union rep. But faster than you can say cliché, the two begin sucking face like two carp fighting for the same corn bit at river bottom, planning an end-around on the suits to save the factory.