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A Tale of Two Sisters – Review March 18, 2009

Posted by Cello in Asian Horror Reviews.

A Tale of Two Sisters follows the return to society of sisters Su-mi and Su-yeon after a spell in a mental institution. Arriving home in the countryside the sisters are devoid of any warmth toward their father, and are slightly less than outright hostile to their stepmother. One night Su-mi has a terrifying dream, while something enters Su-yeon’s room and pulls off her bed cover. Both girls and their step-mother are affected by the house’s atmosphere, with only the father seemingly unaffected. What is causing the strange occurrences and visions? Is the house haunted? Why do the girls hate their step-mother so much?

Unfortunately, I can’t possibly go into any more plot details as it would spoil the film badly. Again, I put the spotlight on a Korean film, but I must admit I am not a big fan of horror movies to begin with because asian horror cinema has succumbed to plenty of cliche’s over the years. K-Horror, of course, is the not so imaginative equivalent of J-Horror. For fans of the Japanese horror scene, certain elements of the film may feel familiar, especially with the infrequent appearance of an Onryo – in Japan, the manifestation of a vengeful spirit, usually female, that was, of course, so iconically captured in The Ring, Dark Water, The Grudge, and others.


Suffice to say, there’s a twist in the tail. In fact, there are several, which is why I would suggest reserving any real judgement or momentary criticisms of proceedings until the very end. Instead of giving away important plot details, I will say instead that this movie has solid acting all the way around.  Having said all of that, there are a few minor criticisms that could be made. Firstly, the film is slow. I have no problem whatsoever with slow films, and didn’t object in the least, but I can imagine that some people would find it takes too long to build up steam.

As I stated before, I am not a fan of horror movies. Not because I hate being scared, but because there are very few movies that can actually put me on the edge of my seat. I don’t want this to come across as a negative review (this blog only focuses on movies I enjoy) as this is a very well crafted, cleverly constructed and entertainingly spooky film. If, like me, you found JU-ON a real disappointment after all the fanfare surrounding it, I think it’s safe to say that not only will you not feel let down by A Tale of Two Sisters, you might just love it. Slight Recommendation.


1. gaguri - March 20, 2009

Not only is this my favourite horror film, it is also one of my favourite films 😀

I have DVD of this movie and the director’s commentary was particularly insightful. He apparently aimed for ‘beautiful horror’, and not really terrifying horror, and wanted people to really fall in love with the sisters and their charm/innocence. At the end, everything feels tragic but also very beautiul. Beautiful because of the innocence of younger sis, beautiful because of how much the older sis loved her and how the tragedy affected her mind, and there is cruel beauty to the notion that the older sis’s life with her younger sis can only exist in 1)beautifully nostalgic past, 2)inside her wishful imagination, before she is forced to confront the cruel reality again. The director actually didn’t go into details as to why he thought the film was beautiful, this is just me filling in my thoughts as to why I thought this film can be considered as a ‘beautiful horror’, using his words 😀

Anyway, great site! I’m guessing you’re also into anime as well seeing how I discovered it through animekritik’s blog.

cello85 - March 20, 2009

Thanks for sharing your insight on the movie, this is definetely a perk of having your own little review blog, you get the perspective of other people! Beautiful is definetely one word to describe the symbolism and feel of the movie. Thanks for sheding some light on the subject, I now need to revisit this movie and check out the commentary track again and pay more close attention to bits and pieces I may have overlooked earlier. I am glad you visited my site and thanks for your generous replies!

Oh, yup I am a big fan of anime, although I’ll admit I havent watched many anime series…I just now got around to finishing Desert Punk…see how behind I am? lol

2. insanelysanereviews - March 25, 2009

i’ve seen this movie and it is really scary. I was planning to watch it again but I lost my copy of the movie. Asian horror movies are really the best!

thanks for visiting my site.

3. Suzumiya Yuki - January 21, 2010

This movie. This Movie!

I love this movie!

I think I’ve watched it a couple of times a year since I got the DVD in 2005.

I never got fed up with it, mostly because it always left me confused. Until 2009.

There is this Korean site I vissit often for info and it started an online shop and I saw this new version with a doctor’s comm.

Now it all makes sense. Somewhat!

And I love it the more.

Japan gave me nerves of steel in their horror flix but sometimes the mind needs some food and since I am not a fan of most genres but horror/sci-fi/fantasy, Korean feeds my mind just fine with their mind boggling horrors and this movie brings out the frontlines.

If I based my rankings on times watched, this would be my favorite movie!

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