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A Tale of Two Sisters

Highest grossing Korean horror film ever made

A Tale of Two Sisters
Like "The Grudge" and "The Ring," elegant Korean psycho-thriller "A Tale of Two Sisters" is not long for an American remake (DreamWorks already has acquired its U.S. rights). It's a stunningly creepy specimen of Asian horror, a glorious entry in the genre presently enjoying toast-of-Tinseltown status.

Accentuating mood over story and disorientation over explanation, the film opens in a blindingly white hospital room with a young woman, Su-mi, hunched in a chair, hair in her eyes, refusing to answer the questions or meet the gaze of her doctor. After a perfunctory interrogation, the doctor asks Su-mi about That Day, causing her neck to slowly lengthen and her inexplicable tale to unfold.

Napping, Su-yeon is awakened by the bony, white hand of a ghost. Then the family sits down to a nice supper. This thread continues, with each uneasy moment sliding out of fantastically normal family dysfunction: Dad sleeps on the couch, Su-mi resents her stepmom, Eun-joo is on meds, no one wants to have the relatives over for dinner but when they do, Su-mi's aunt has some sort of spasm, bleeding and puking all over the floor, sees a little girl hiding under the kitchen sink, and the evening is a bust.

From there, Kim and cinematographer Lee Mogae assault us with eerie, abstract imagery and alternating perspectives, all woven together into a hallucination, one that never really explains itself (as often is the case with hallucination) but increases in intensity and delirium.

And style. Style reigns supreme in this film, both visually and aurally. Kim sets most every scene against the primary colors of the house. When Eun-joo paces, she does so in front of gorgeous magenta wallpaper and when the blood starts to spill, it splatters on deep, dark hardwood floors. And though there is music throughout, all you'll hear is the actors' increasingly frantic breathing patterns--more essential to the film than its barely present dialogue, and far more expressive. (A. Benedikt, Chicago Tribune)

A Tale of Two Sisters

Sun February 6, 2005, 7:00 & 9:30, Muenzinger Auditorium

Korea, 2004, in Korean, Color, 115 min • official site

recommend

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