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Lately I've begun to wonder why American horror pictures seem so repetitive. Rarely in the past few years have I seen a film of the spook genre that has succeeded in impressing me. I checked out the movies that did big business in the box office. After all, if these pictures are scaring audiences, then there must be something special about them, right?


Two of the films to which I am referring are The Ring and The Grudge. I took a peek at both films that people claim are "oh so scary" and felt ripped off. Both flicks were a series of happenings that I will admit chilled me to the bone. But they didn't show me a stunning conclusion that I had not already seen at the movies. They were both like going through a spook house--- while they were successful in delivering disturbing, eerie imagery, they were covering up for a script that didn't exist.

Since both films were based on Asian horror, I decided to track down the source. What did I find? The original Asian films that are apparently the brilliant templates for these remakes are just as lazy. Films such as Ju-On: The Grudge and Phone all involved a series of freaky occurrences and, of course, the pale-faced ghost of a dead girl that lurks in the shadows of a haunted house, videotape, or cellular phone.

To add fuel to my fire of extreme disappointment is A Tale of Two Sisters. Looking at the reviews and haunting front cover of the DVD, I prayed that finally I would see an Asian horror film that lives up to the much talked about brilliance of the genre. Unfortunately, I sat through this turkey hybrid of every other Asian horror flick (and their remakes) and have come to the realization that this hyped genre is overrated.

The film begins with two sisters, Su-mi and Sooyeon, returning to the home of their father and stepmother. It seems the two siblings are just getting back from some sort of hospitalization that treated their "sickness". Their father is a quiet, reserved man that makes himself scarce as their stepmother puts her foot down on the girls. While Su-mi hates wicked stepmom and feels obligated to defend herself, the younger, more vulnerable Sooyeon becomes the victim of her stepmother's torment. This is demonstrated when Sooyeon is locked in her closet on numerous occasions by the witch.

While the family undergoes the usual dysfunctional issues, scary things begin to happen around the house. Both sisters and the stepmother go through screaming fits from their fears of seeing inexplicable things throughout the house. This includes (of course) a dark-haired, pale-faced ghost that crawls around the house. The plot thickens and it is revealed that things in this house are not as they seem.

I will hand it to A Tale of Two Sisters for keeping me intrigued for two hours. I will also give it a furious kick in the junk for ending those intense two hours with a conclusion that made me shout, "What? That's it?" Don't get me wrong. I do not expect a Shyamalan-like twist at the end of every film, but I do expect original material. Sisters is a horror film that made me jump, quiver, and grow goosebumps thanks to its slick direction and spooky imagery. However, underneath those scares is a contrived script that demonstrates at least two-well known plot twists that I've seen in recent years.

A Tale of Two Sisters is one of those films that presents its scenes out of chronological order and asks the viewer to jump in and figure things out for his or herself. I admire films such as this that ask us to participate and not just sit back and watch like passive corpses. I quite enjoyed putting the pieces of Sisters together, but failed to find satisfaction with the end result. Even after going online and reading fully detailed explanations, I still felt empty and unimpressed. A Tale of Two Sisters may be a beautifully directed chiller, but underneath the eye candy shell is a hollow pit of disappointment.

The DVD contains two discs. The first one contains the feature presentation itself and two commentary tracks. The first track is with the director, cinematographer, and lighting director, who spend most of the time discussing the look of the film and technical aspects. The second track is with the director and some of the cast members. This shifts more focus on casting and how the actors prepared for their roles

The second disc contains the usual assortment of supplemental features. These include:

Creating A Tale of Two Sisters

The making-of featurettes are broken down into Behind the Scenes, Production Design, Music, Poster Creation, and CGI Creation. The different categories make it more convenient for the viewer to choose their topic of interest as opposed to sitting through one long doc*mentary that tries to cover all bases in one sitting. These are quite interesting.


There are interviews available with the cast members, but these are not nearly as thought provoking as the director dishing out his feelings on the horror genre, and a psychologist shedding light on some of the mental issues covered in the film.

Deleted Scenes and Outtakes

I found these to be a dull waste of time as the scenes are clearly worth leaving in the editing room. Enough said.

Still Gallery

Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1 measurement). The direction by Ji-woon Kim is quite vivid and haunting. Most of the picture takes place within the walls of a house, and Kim makes great use of his limited space. By taking advantage of flashy hallucination and dream sequences, as well as the beautiful landscape outside the home, the film dishes out solid picture quality.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, DTS Digital Surround, Korean Language with English and Spanish Subtitles. This flick will surely give the surround system a workout with its blood-curdling screams and suspenseful musical score.
Standard DVD keep case with two discs inside. The front cover shows a family portrait of the father, stepmother, and two girls. Everything looks squeaky clean except for the blood splattered all over the girls' dresses. This picture says, "Rent me! I'm the feel good comedy of the year!"
A Tale of Two Sisters grabbed me by the neck, made me jump out of my seat a few times, and built up my anticipation for an unforgettable climax. However, like the other Asian scare flicks before it, the film proved to be a grave disappointment. I just don't understand what the big deal is about the highly praised genre. Sure they offer up unforgettable images that will give you nightmares for weeks, but what about the storyline? A Tale of Two Sisters is just a smorgasbord of popular twist endings that have been unleashed throughout the last ten years. I suppose fans of the genre should give this a rental, but I can't give this one the green light. Shocks and scares aside, this flick is hollow.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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