A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)
Genre: Horror Drama Mystery Thriller (South Korean)
Starring: Su-jeong Lim (...ing), Jung-ah Yum (H)
Directed By: Ji-woon Kim (A Bittersweet Life; The Quiet Family)
Overview: The father and stepmother of two sisters walk on eggshells after the girls' return from a mental hospital. It doesn't take long before creepy and unexplained phenomena begin to explain the reasons for their illness.
Acting: Stunning and impressive performances by all. The wicked stepmother has this multi-layered subtext that you just know means something else every time she speaks, and the girls are more powerful that I ever would have imagined. There's no doubt that the director not only picked perfect people for these roles, but made sure that they did it right.
Cinematography: Right away you know it's a quality production, proved by that perfectly chosen gorgeous and lonely country house and its serene surroundings, the suspense-enhancing camerawork and holy jumpin' that colour coordination just cinches the visual appeal in that The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover kind of way, but most subtle, less pretentious. You even notice the perfection of the hair and make-up, it's so amazing.
Script: Here's the down side. I don't know if it was the nuances of the language that just failed in translation but be prepared for an ending with just a few too many lingering questions (thank God for Deleted Scenes, because it helps fill in the gaps). Don't get me wrong, the dialogue is solid and we really understand very quickly where everyone stands in the pecking order in this house, but the explanations don't live up to the intended plot nearly as much as I'd hoped.
Plot: A couple of sisters come home after having spent some time in a mental hospital. Meek father, evil stepmother, disturbed children, all this is, like with most thrillers, one long fuse leading to the powder keg that's going to explode in everyone's face. This is about letting the audience trying to figure out what the reason for the trip to the hospital initially, while still adding supernatural elements. The end, though solid, was a little murky, but the story is unique and original.
Mood: Ask me to create the perfect suspense film and even though I'd have to watch this a dozen more times to get it just right, this would be the source, my friend. Girlfriend of Squish isn't a fan of The Ring and other way too creepy, perfect Horror Thrillers of this kind, because rather than constant cheap scares, this sets you up for a jumpy scene with a moment of cautious approach as music becomes more and more sinister. Then the genius hits and the scare you were expecting doesn't come. It saves it up until you drop your guard, and then right when you have your cushy little comfort back, it scares the bejesus out of you, but in that up-your-spine creepy can't-shake-it way. I got the creeps right now thinking about it. You're there, all to much.
Overall Rating: 86% (Gather Round And Listen)
Aftertaste: I think it was this film that was the last straw in making me realize how important the visual aspect of a film is to me. A movie can be a dog-turd of a nightmare and I'll still be able to say that no matter how crappy, it was at least nice to look at.
I like looking. There's beauty out there. This is one of 'em.