Tale of Two Sisters, A (South Korea; 115 min.)


directed by: Ji-woon Kim
starring: Su-jeong Lim; Geun-yeung Mun; Jung-ah Yum
Janghwa, Hongryeon
 
Michael says: "I am a fan of the Asian 'hair horror' genre kicked off so wonderfully several years ago by RINGU. Strangely enough, so does the American movie market. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is a Korean entry into the genre, and long before it’s release in the States, it has been purchased to be remade. I’ll stick with originals.

"A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is more than just a horror movie… and horror movie isn’t really quite the right term. Horror movies encompass such a wide range of subgenres that often when the term is used, many people think, slasher film, or gore fest. That’s why I like the 'hair horror' films: they tend to rely more on creepy visuals than blood-splattered gore. SISTERS is more of a ghost story combined with a family drama. Perhaps the biggest difference between SISTERS and RINGU or JU ON: THE GRUDGE is the presence of a plot! While RINGU was mainly just a neat concept, and JU ON a series of frights, SISTERS has a strong plot, and a mystery as well. Although until the last five to ten minutes, you’re led to believe that maybe it’s not going to add up to anything. SISTERS does a terrific job stringing you along with scares, mysteries, and dark visions before finally… and I mean finally, filling in the story.

"I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, or even the scares because I think viewers will have a lot more fun just watching the film. In the end, SISTERS has, in addition to the requisite theme of revenge… or perhaps justice… a strong feeling of the tragic. I think this is one of the first time that I actually felt a degree of sorrow for the characters involved. Perhaps that’s because despite the presence of a dark force, it’s the more human elements of the story that keep you interested. 4 cats"

 
Chris says: "Why can't Americans make horror films as genuinely eerie (and intelligent) as this? Creepy goings-on at a Tudor cottage in the South Korean countryside, complete with ghosts, possessions, young girls getting locked in closets and a divinely wicked stepmother that could give the Queen in Snow White a run for her money. Of course, nothing is what it seems and most of the horror has a psychological bent, but even as director Ji-Woon Kim indulges in the sensational (sound effects, razor-sharp editing, more than a few blood-curdling screams), he does so with the finesse of prime Dario Argento. Comparable to a M. Night Shyamalan film, only good. 4 cats"
 
Bruce says: "A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is a gothic horror story that is a tale of psychological horror as opposed to a story involving the supernatural. The story opens with two girls – Jangwha (Lim Su-jeong) and Hongryeon (Mun Geun-yeong) - arriving at a large, beautiful home in the countryside that is foreboding in spite of its magnificent presence. The viewer is willing to take the scene literally as the girls go down to a lake and dangle their feet on the dock. What we learn later is that there is just one girl and the second figure is a ghost personality which she has been trying to shake off since she was institutionalized. The arrival is in fact a homecoming fraught with fears and insecurities.

"The girls are greeted by an overenthusiastic stepmother (Yum Jung-ah) whose niceness we quickly suspect is a veneer. Shortly thereafter we learn that the situation at hand is well beyond her coping skills. Most of the dramatic tension involves the relationship of the stepmother and Jangwha. The girls’ father (Kim Kap-su) attempts an upbeat facade but concern is written all over his face. He has little understanding of his daughter's plight.

"Soon weird noises and apparitions become the household norm. We are initially led to believe the house is haunted. In a way, that is true. Just not haunted for everyone. The film is splendidly directed, beautifully designed and well-acted. Director Kim Ji-woon has strong visual sensibilities which are essential to tell his story since most of the scary parts involve the imagination of various characters. Not every one of his attempts to delve into the mental realm is successful but Kim does hit his target most of the time. Some of the scenes are intentionally dark, probably to sustain the formidable tome of the film; instead, those scenes dilute the strength of the characters’ paranoia. The viewer needs a clearer view. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is a fun film which happens to be a serious film as well. 4 cats"