Please welcome Harriett Branch back for a 4th year of the Halloween Horrors series!
A long time friend, Harriett first joined the series back in 2016 with a look at the film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. For 2019’s series, Harriett presents us with one of the more unique choices in this year’s roster of films, 2003’s A Tale of Two Sisters. While not only presenting us with the 1st Korean film to be featured in this series, Harriett also made the choice to cover a film that she had never previously watched. While I do think that she handled the challenge in admirable fashion, it also helps demonstrate the series’ ability to connect horror fans with films that they may not have previous experienced…. even if that person is the one writing the review!
Here’s Harriett to help broaden our Halloween Horrors landscape….
Hello, fiends! I am back, once again, to share a review on this great page for the Halloween Horrors of 2019! The theme this year was “letters”, in that we were given letters by our illustrious host and asked to choose a film to review that began with that letter. My letter was “T”, and I chose to review a movie that I had never seen before, A Tale of Two Sisters.
Directed by Jee-woon Kim and released in 2003, A Tale of Two Sisters is a quiet, slow psychological thriller about two sisters that go live with their dad and his new wife after their mom has passed away. One of the sisters has been in a mental institution, but we’re not told why, initially. Apparently, she has become well enough to be released and go live with family. Uh-huh,…. sure.
It’s not long before things get creepy. The first night, actually! Ghostly footsteps, creaky doors, shadows, and….. what the Hell is that at the foot of the bed?!?! The sisters begin to hear things, see things, and experience things that would send any sane person running. The elder sister, Soo-Mi, has some disturbing nightmares, but is able to hold it together to soothe her younger sister and reassure her that everything will be alright. Again,…. uh-huh,….. sure.
As the film progresses, it’s clear that there is some deep dark family secret being hidden. The father is sullen, quiet, and distant, the stepmother is evil and mean, and the sisters are pretty much ignored. During the first night’s dinner, dear old Dad gives his wife some pills, and later, there is some talk about a cupboard that the girls are to never mention again. Hmmm.
Things really go awry when the family invite a young couple over for dinner. A Norman Rockwell picture, this is not. A few minutes into the dinner, the woman begins choking and having some kind of fit. During her attack, the woman sees something under the kitchen sink. She reveals to her boyfriend during their drive home, that she had seen a young girl hiding there, and this is where the movie took a genuine turn to the weird for me.
The evil stepmother’s anger gets directed towards the younger of the two sisters, and we’re slowly introduced to why the cupboard is such a sore subject. Soo-Mi tries to protect her sister, but things turn violent, scary, and strange when Dad reveals a disturbing secret to her that lets us in on why she was in a mental institution. It’s truly a sad situation.
Family secrets, a mysterious cupboard, and just a hint of blood made this a “good” movie for me. It had some genuinely creepy moments and a good story, to boot. It has a quiet, slow build and a story that continued to keep me guessing. Once the secret was revealed, I was tempted to go back and rewatch it from the beginning. It certainly warrants repeated viewings and I know I will gladly watch it again.
The film has been recommended to me several times over the years, and I just never got around to watching it. I’m glad I finally did, though, as I truly enjoyed it. It’s not overly violent or gory, but a good creepy tale done well. It’s presented in Korean with English subtitles, and it was the highest grossing Korean film and the first to be screened in American theaters. It made me wonder if I would seek out other titles by Jee-woon Kim, and I can safely sat to that question…