Thursday 26 May 2011

Janghwa, Hongryeon. A Tale of Two Sisters

Jee-woon Kim's A Tale of Two Sisters is a masterful narrative about trauma and what it does to individuals. It is also a reminder of all the things horror movies could be if they aspired to be more than just light entertainment: insights into the depth of human suffering, the amount of cruelty we are able to inflict upon each other, and the toll our actions take on both the fabric of reality and our fragile consciousness. It toys with the perception of the viewers, withholding vital pieces of information necessary to understand what is going on, forcing us to constantly wonder what we are seeing, like outcasts in a group of people that exclude us with cold glares. Two girls return from an asylum, into a remote country home; their father is distant and reacts strangely, their stepmother is like a perfected version of the fairy tale evil stepmother; and slowly, strange creatures creep into the tale, under the kitchen cabinets, in a wardrobe, constantly threatening the three main female characters that slowly descend into madness until one essential piece of knowledge is delivered and finally hints at a pattern. A Tale of Two Sisters is a beautiful, stunning movie: the sounds lurk and creep, as if there was always something waiting to attack from some remote corner of the room; the house itself is one of the main characters, furnished with exquisitely patterned textiles, the acting is brilliant in its alienation, both achieving sympathy for the main characters and impossible knowledge. If Science Fiction at its best tells tales of humanity and society, horror movies convey a knowledge about the dark corners of humanity that is usually inaccessible. 

2003, directed by Jee-woon Kim, starring Su-jeong Lim, Geun-Young Moon, Jung-ah Yum, Kap-su Kim.

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