A Tale of Two Sisters

The latest horror film to arrive here from Asia is also the first recent one coming without a remake. The Ring and The Grudge already arrived, and a remake for The Eye is on its way. The reason that A Tale of Two Sisters doesn't have a remake is that of the bunch, is it is probably the worst. Yet, that doesn't make this a bad film. After all, the company it keeps is pretty impressive. Two Sisters was a huge hit in Korea, where people supposedly saw it multiple times in order to unravel its twisted plot. This is strange, because the plot makes perfect sense if one sits through the entire film. Sure it jumps back in time a few times to tease out some secrets from the past, but this is no different from a host of other films.

Writer/director Kim Ji-Woon (Three, Coming Out) uses an extraordinary amount of pacing in order to extract as much suspense as possible. The premise is simple. Moo-Hyeon (Kim Kap-Su, 4 Toes, KT) brings home his two daughters, Su-Mi (Lim Su-Jeong, The Romantic President) and Su-Yeong (Mun Geun-Yeong, Lover's Concerto), who spent some time in a hospital for what seems to be a psychological problem. Su-Mi and Su-Yeong harbor no love for their stepmother Eun-Joo (Yum Jung-Ah, H, Tell Me Something), who harbors a lot of bitterness towards Su-Yeong. Instead of doing anything about this familial rift, Moo-Hyeon ignores it.

The house itself is a character. It is perpetually dark (what is it about these people and their refusal to buy some lights) and its wooden floors creak ominously. All three of the women feel that something is wrong when the two daughters return. They hear noises at night, and weird things begin to happen. Su-Mi and Su-Yeong begin seeing some very strange things, and Eun-Joo continues to lash out as Su-Yeong. Because Kim takes his time in letting events play out, it is hard to tell whether or not they are real (well, they are). Moo-Hyeon and Eun-Joo believe that Su-Mi is having a hard time adjusting back to life at home, and hint that everything may be in her imagination. And Kim does a pretty good job of making people wonder whether or not this is true.

Nevertheless, eventually, the ghosts appear. In this case, it is the now ubiquitous gaunt Asian woman with hair streaming down across the front of her face. Like Ju-On and its remake, loud static noises accompany her appearance. By this time, Kim has cranked up the intensity level pretty high, so it's easy to get caught up in the twists that accompany the plot. Things never approach the same level of fright as the other films, and this is partially because of the story. As it plays out, it becomes very familiar. By the end, the bulk of the story makes sense. Still, there are a few plot threads that Kim leaves unanswered, and this is a problem because it does not tie in with the rest of Two Sisters.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 54 minutes, Korean with English subtitles, Rated R for some violence and disturbing images.

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