Ji Woon Kim
Ji Woon Kim
Kap Su Kim as: Bah Moon Hyun (Father)
Jung Ah Yum as: Eun Joo (Step-Mother)
Soo Jeong Lim as: Bae Soo Me (Junghwa)
Guen Young Moon as: Bae Soo Yeon (Hongryeon)
The great thing about the emergence of Asian horror into the American mainstream is that it infuses the genre with a host of new traditional tales and plots foreign to those of us in the Western world. A Tale of Two Sisters continues this trend of originality.
Many Korean ghost stories revolve around adolescent girls (in fact there is an adolescent ghost that many Koreans claim to have seen in their homes). This one is about Hongryeon and her sister Junghwa. They travel to the country with their father to meet their stepmother.
The setting is perfect for a traditional haunting. Although it takes place in an average two-story house and sits atop a hill, the home is secluded from other houses – a clear sign of wealth in crowded little South Korea. There is a dreary coldness to the place, despite the efforts of the step mother to be cheerful.
The eerie and sudden changes in music combine with appropriately placed shadows that alternate with vivid color and summon a mood designed to make you peer over your shoulder at the (hopefully) empty room behind you. Yes, there are subtitles, but you get used to them in the first five minutes and they do not distract from the creepy sensation.
The relationships between the father, step-mother and two sisters are awkward and personality quirks all around have you suspicious from the beginning that there is something unsaid about their situation (aside from the obvious- that the sisters are uncomfortable with their step mother). Yet, instead of giving you hints, the story goes right along as if you were not there and the interactions you witness seem completely genuine.
This one has everything you’d expect from a good ghost story, plus some real depth to characters and story line. A happy reminder that dread has no cultural limits.
P.S. If you live in a big house…best to see this one with a friend.