12 April 2010

Clarky's Review: A Tale of Two Sisters

I first saw this film in a half full cinema in Glasgow when it came out way back in 2003. By the end of the movie, my friends and I were just about the only people left in the cinema, such is the power of some of the scenes in this film.

On rewatching it, as with most horror films, something is lost on the small screen. Especially with regards to the sound. I remember watching this at the cinema and every creak of the floorboards had my body involuntarily tensing up. It was unbearable. Whilst this was lost watching it at my flat on a autumnal night at the start of horror club there was still plenty to enjoy here and more than enough scares to keep us going for a while.

The second film, of my oft mentioned and highly praised, foreign horror trilogy (something that I have been living off for quite some time now!), this was also the first Korean horror film we had seen and from the look of the box Ally and Fin could tell that the South Korean's don't muck about when it comes to horror. A hideous family portrait, this sets the tone for things to come.

I think being the first South Korean horror we watched, possibly ever not just in horror club, gave this film a little added extra and (unfortunately) paved the way for some early choices in the 2010/11 season. The problem, that I find, with most South Korean horrors is that they are almost always based on a children's fairytale, or folklore etc etc. This tends to make a lot of the story elements and twist and turns very familiar once you have seen a few films. I have no doubt that if we had watched this after watching The Eye (although whether we would ever have trusted another South Korean film after that I'm not sure) then it would not have had the impact that it had at the time.

A slow burner of a movie, there is an incredible sense of unease throughout. Including an incredible, and at times horrifying, performance by Jung-ah Jum (thanks IMDB), the girl's stepmother. There are a number of unsettling scenes throughout, but what you feel most of all is the sense that something is not quite right. It is palpable right from the offset and infiltrates every second of the running time, a quite incredible achievement by the director and the actors.
This film also provided us with the first, and possibly only, time all three of us screamed (like little girls) at once. A pure unadulterated scream that would have sent shivers down my neighbours spines had they heard it. I swear that there was a foot of fresh air beneath all of us as we jumped off the couch!

The film also looks gorgeous, with some incredible cinematography and lighting that really help to impose the feeling of unease and the mood of the film. And as mentioned previously, whilst the sound is not what it was at the cinema it is still incredibly effective.

A very strong addition to the horror club canon that loses something on repeat viewings but is sure to terrify you the first time round.


  1. Really strong film. Unsettling is the word.

  2. Nice review if only all Asian horror was as good as this

  3. Fin and Ally screaming like girls I can readily believe (and have witnessed more than once), but you too, Clarky? That must be some scene. Think I'll give this one a miss...


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