One of the most chilling yet visually appealing movies to greet my DVD player in a long time, the Korean film "A Tale of Two Sisters" is a piece of art - and it's scary, too.
Supposedly based on a Korean folktale, "Two Sisters" examines the breakdown of two sisters after they return from a mental hospital. They move back in with their father and evil stepmother, but the family secrets that keep the tension raised are only a small part of the problem. The sisters begin to see horrible things that they shouldn't be seeing; something else is in the house, but what it is they don't know. They think the stepmother is involved, but is she really? What is real and what is not? Make sure to pay close attention.
Wow. That's all I can say. The latest in the line of "Asia Extreme" DVDs from Tartan Video, this is by far the best I've seen. "Asia Extreme" appears to be importing the best of Asian cinema, and while past releases such as "Doppelganger" and "Phone" were pretty decent, my interest in Asian movies has really faded. After a plethora of horror releases that all have the same plot and cinematic style, and after an onslaught of pointless remakes that seem to do nothing but lessen the originals, it is refreshing to see such an amazing film as this. Of course, according to the press release that came with the DVD, Hollywood is planning on remaking "Two Sisters" as well. There is absolutely no way Hollywood can do this one better.
Director Kim Jee-Woon has churned out an absolute masterpiece, skillfully crafting a complex story, impressive style and a scary atmosphere into one flawless piece of work. The first thing you'll notice is the cinematography and use of color; Jee-Woon uses them to perfection. The whole movie flows with life (and death), and its use of color reminded me a lot of "The Sixth Sense."
Of course, the story is what will appeal to mainstream audiences, and it's a real shame this movie wasn't given the chance to be released in more theaters. Scary, suspenseful and mind-bending, "Two Sisters" is a ghost story and psychological thriller all rolled into one. There were a few visual moments that reminded me of "Ju-On: The Grudge," but thankfully "Two Sisters" actually has a plot. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, make sure to pay close attention or you'll become absolutely lost. The last half hour or so is extremely complex and confusing, but everything is resolved in the end. Reality and insanity merge together with exacting precision, culminating in several disturbing twists.
Coming to DVD March 29, "Two Sisters" is a can't-miss for horror fans. This isn't simple horror like the recent wave of Asian horror films to hit American shores in recent years; this is a brooding tale of murder, and family betrayal that will provoke the mind while, at times, scare the living daylights out of you.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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