A Tale of Two Sisters (KIM Jee-Woon)
If you’re looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush but don’t really want to think after a crazy week, you may want to go see Alexander or After the Sunset. If you want to get creeped out and utterly confused, then this story is right up your spine.
Director KIM Jee-Won is among a generation of Japanese filmmakers that seem to have cornered the market on scaring people to the bone. Rather than using the graphic and obvious like American film, A Tale of Two Sisters uses your own mind to set the suspense, giving you just enough to send your imagination jetting off and over the cliff.
It is a movie that starts in the present and travels to the past to unravel the story that will keep you in a state of wonder up until the very end. It opens with a drive through the beautiful countryside, and then enters a dark and foreboding estate where the tragedy all happened. Two sisters come back home to live with their father and step-mother after being away for what seems to be a medical visit to the mental hospital.
Starting slow, the tale continues to build through a series of events, from mental manipulation to ghosts making visits for revenge. The colors and lighting used from frame to frame help to set this twisted mystery, where you almost have to strain to see what will happen next.
At times I got very frustrated with the characters, what they do and don’t do to preserve themselves, and something as simple as getting their hearing checked…how if one had only heard what was going on, the story would have had a different outcome.
But then you wouldn’t have this movie, and I wouldn’t still be haunted even in the light of day. This is as far from a ‘feel good movie of the year’ as you can get. But the mastery with which it was crafted has to be admired.