Another Halloween movie with…
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is another film with subtitles, but I hope this isn’t a roadblock for anyone. It’s a real gem. In fact, it’s like one of those great character studies mired in suffocating Southern gothic horror, except Korean-style. In other words, you’ve got an idyllic, beautiful country setting, an old house with terrible ghosts and secrets, and a very screwed-up, repressed family that allows those ghosts to flourish. Good to know that America doesn’t have a corner on this market.
Things start out in a mental institution where a doctor is questioning a girl about “what happened that day.” Right away, you see that there’s a mystery to be had, and the action settles into the past, when two teen girls arrive at the previously mentioned house. One of the girls, Su-Mi, is clearly not happy with her father. There’s an angry distance that trumps a reluctant fondness she still has for him. It’s very well played in the writing and the acting—in fact, you could say this movie is artistic on every level, so you can feel good about watching your gore and frights this time around.
Next, the girls run into a very chatty, henpecky, obviously evil stepmother. The villain has descended. After that, you get everything from a J-horror inspired ghost (you know—with the dark, messy hair obscuring most of the face, the weird, disjointed way of moving, the animalistic creaky sounds) to some very, very good scares that result from tense build up. There’s lots of talk about “craziness,” and it gets to the point where you start to wonder exactly who is crazy and who isn’t.
Then you go, “A-ha.” That’s because this is a twisty movie, where clues to what’s happening are fed to us bit by awesome bit. Every minute, you put another piece in place, but you’re not always led to the correct answers.
Another thing—A TALE OF TWO SISTERS is gorgeously filmed, with startling usage of reds and blues against the bleakness of that house. Some might say the film is slow going, but I’m telling you that the payoffs are worth the wait.
Oh, and I heard that this film was remade here in the States as THE UNINVITED, so I’m curious to see how Hollywood flubbed it up.
If you love stories that mess with your mind, this definitely for you….