Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Tale of Two Sisters

Directed by Ji-woon Kim.
2003. Rated R, 115 minutes.
Su-jeong Lim
Jung-ah Yum
Geun-Young Moon
Kap-su Kim
Seung bi-Lee

Su-Mi (Lim) comes home from a mental institution to a sister who idolizes her, a stepmother who hates her and a father who's confused by her but hopes she can come to grips with the event that got her committed in the first place.

It starts off like a teenager vs. stepmother melodrama but creepy things start happening, each a little creepier than the last. Before you know it you find yourself trapped within a horror movie that doesn't necessarily want to scare you but to screw with your head really badly. And yes, by the time its all said and done the movie along with your brain has been twisted into a knot. The capper is a wonderfully ambiguous ending, open to all sorts of interpretation. The whole thing would've fell apart if not for two outstanding performances from our leading ladies. Lim as Su-Mi is positively brilliant and Yum as the stepmother ranges from the evil stepmom to a hysterical psycho, to wildeyed and fearful and even a few moments as a reserved professional. It's truly remarkable work.

It may start a little too slowly. Fans used to thrill-a-minute hack flicks with body parts flying everywhere might not give it the chance it deserves. It doesn't help that scaring you isn't really the movie's aim. Disturbing you is, but it works its way up to it rather than diving right at your jugular. Also, that ambiguous ending I love might be too vague for some. It will surely leave some scratching their heads wondering what they just saw.

Whoa...wha...where'd that hand come from?

This is for people into psychological horror flicks, having far more in common with the simmering build-up of Rosemary's Baby than the slice and dice meat-grinding of Friday the 13th. When the movie ends you'll have to decide what you think happened and no matter what conclusion you come to, its twisted. I highly recommend watching this in favor of the American remake, The Uninvited. Subtitleophobes beware, we're speaking Korean.

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