A Tale of Two Sisters is available to rent or buy now
Kim Jee-Woon’s, A Tale of Two Sisters is undoubtedly one of South Korea’s best known psychological horrors. Equally, it holds the prestigious title of being the highest-grossing Korean horror film so far. As a result, A Tale of Two Sisters has often been cited as a cornerstone of South-Korean cinema; the forerunner of movies such as Oldboy (2003), Train to Busan (2016) and The Wailing (2016). Based on an old Korean folktale, The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon, the film may start as a generic haunted house ghost story but ends up so much more than a cheap fright.
A Tale of Two Sisters is at its most potent when one enters Kim Jee-Woon’s world, knowing little about the plot, even though the main twist can probably be seen for miles. The story is, however, secondary to the incredible, scary and dramatic atmosphere Kim Jee-Woon creates. Here there is an underlying feeling of dread from the first frame to the very last. The haunting story that ensues carrying just the right amount of jump scares and gore to appeal to all those seeking a thrilling ride. Furthermore, the beautiful set design and music further elevate the film to new heights, making A Tale of Two Sisters a truly memorable and unique experience.
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The result is an exemplar example of ‘show, don’t tell’ filmmaking—the film, filled with visual motifs, throwaways and hints that at first go unnoticed. Here, Kim Jee-Woon holds his audience in a void between reality and fantasy, his movie demanding repeat viewings. However, the mystery vaguely loses its power upon multiple viewings, mainly due to a few too many convoluted twists. But, that does not take away from this expertly crafted, elegantly told, atmospheric film. The journey we embark upon transcending the usual horror labels with undercurrents of loss and unprocessed grief.