Ah, A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon), how I love thee. I watched it for the third time last night and have now seen it with six different people. Everyone except for one has agreed that this movie is absolutely terrifying; the day after Ben watched it, he tried looking up trivia on IMDB but got too scared and had to quickly close the browser window.
I love a good horror movie and A Tale of Two Sisters is definitely a good horror movie. Here, I mean horror “oh crap oh crap” not horror “oh hey look some zombies”. It is a Korean film about two young sisters staying at their family’s cabin and having to deal with their abusive and slightly deranged step-mom. The movie follows the two along, leaving you unsure about what is happening in the house and why it is allowed to go on.
The movie has a lot going for it. The cinematography is amazing – the colors are always perfect for the scene and the shot selection lets the audience know what is going on while heightening the tension. The characters are creepy and none do anything dumb. It gets tiring watching movies that keep the tension high by forcing the characters to run around like headless chickens and doing the dumbest things. This movie is just plain scary and there is very little the characters could do to make their situations come out better. Perhaps most importantly, the movie is subtle. Not only do you catch a lot on the second and third viewings, you have to think a lot during the movie to figure out what is going on. Intelligent horror movies are always much more satisfying.
The movie only has minor downsides. Like any horror movie, it is never scary the second time. Also, the acting is occasionally a little off. But that is about it. Perhaps the real downside is that there is an American remake entitled The Uninvited that will come out soon and it looks absolutely terrible. It seems like everything that was great about it has been destroyed so that the studio can churn out another predictable thriller. Boo on them.