Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Review by Kelly
“A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.”
A Tale of Two Sisters was written and directed by Jee-woon Kim, the mastermind behind the absolutely incredible film, I Saw the Devil. Oh, and if you haven’t seen THAT movie please remedy that immediately! As per Wikipedia, A Tale of Two Sisters was “inspired by a Joseon Dynasty era folktale entitled Janghwa Hongryeon jeon, which has been adapted to film several times.” It is actually not only the highest-grossing Korean horror film ever but, the first to be screened in American theaters. There was a remake released in 2009 called The Uninvited but you probably don’t want to watch that. Unless you do, and then that’s fine...I suppose.
The movie opens with a young girl, Soo-mi, in an institution being asked to remember a certain day in her past. What did happen on that day? The film then moves to her with her sister, Soo-yaen, returning to their family home after being institutionalized due to the death of their mother. They come home to their familiar house, their father and step-mother. There is an obvious strain between both the father and step-mother, and the girls seemed to be incredibly bonded. Spooky events start to happen quickly upon their return home such as doors opening on their own, footsteps down the hall and the TV turns itself on. The movie proceeds to unfold this complicated tale of lies, death, tragedy, and grief.
If there ever is a Korean option for our monthly themes, I am all over watching it. It’s a country that produces fascinatingly original, interesting movies and I look forward to discovering more in 2019. Unfortunately, A Tale of Two Sisters I found fell flat due to the incredibly convoluted storytelling. The ending is confusing and takes some thinking post-watch to really understand what was going on within the story itself. By the end you receive some resolution, but are still bewildered. The movie was high on melodrama and very low on the scares. There are a few spooky images and a decent jump scare, but overall, it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be which was a Korean spook-fest! The house where the story takes place is beautifully designed with a lot of rich reds and blues throughout it. The acting and music are decent. However, the movie is a bit too long, which I have found to be the case in a number of movies from Korea. I would like the stories to be a bit more concise! The story is emotionally upsetting, for sure, but overall I was hoping for a scarier experience.
If you enjoy the exploration of grief mixed with scares, then you might like A Tale of Two Sisters. I would also recommend checking out Thirst (another movie I did a review on), The Wailing or as previously mentioned, I Saw the Devil.