TALE OF TWO SISTERS - DVD review

The film has a stunning sense of color. Scenes sometimes alternate from a hot red and orange to an eerie alien green to a cold, lonely blue.

William D. Lee's picture
William
Lee

The success of the original "Ringu" has sent numerous studios and filmmakers clamoring to ride its coattails with a slew of imitators. This new wave of Asian horror films does not rely on the shock value of gore which only gives you a momentary jolt. Rather, the creeps involve the twists and turns through the slow unraveling of a mystery. It's no wonder that Hollywood has come knocking in search of the latest hit to remake. One such film that is being looked at for a remake is "A Tale of Two Sisters."

Based loosely on an old Korean fairy tale, "Two Sisters" opens in a psychiatric hospital where a young girl is being interviewed by a doctor. As befitting other Asian horror films, the girl has pale skin and long, black hair combed over her face. We learn that this girl is, Su-Mi (Su-jeong Lim), and that she and her younger sister, Su-yeong (Geun-yeong Mun), have recently been released from an institution. Su-Mi is more outspoken than the more introverted, Su-yeong.

Their father, Moo-hyeong (Kap-su Kim), has brought them home their new stepmother, who is the dictionary definition of wicked. She greets them with a phony welcome and spends much of her time taunting Su-Mi. It seems she also beats Su-yeong for no apparent reason. The father is so passive that it seems he either doesn't care or is too afraid to do anything about it. This leaves Su-mi to take matters into her own hands.

The film starts off a bit slow, but picks up halfway through as revelations start coming out. However, when these plot points are revealed they raise more questions in place of the ones they answered. I found myself getting lost as the movie continued, while I tried to figure things out. It's hard to discuss these things without spoiling the film, suffice to say there are a few plot holes that needed to be plugged up.

It's a shame because I was instantly drawn in at the beginning through the remarkable visuals. Director, Kim-jee Woon, seamlessly creates two worlds, first with the idyllic outdoors around the girls' home. After arriving, Su-mi (in a bright red jacket) and Su-yeong (in a pale tan top), take in their surroundings by admiring the plants and sitting on the dock, their feet in the water. From there, the sisters enter their home, a dim world of shadows even in daylight. When we first meet the stepmother, she walks down a hallway hidden in darkness, a stark contrast to her superficial sunny demeanor. The film also has a stunning sense of color. Scenes sometimes alternate from a hot red and orange to an eerie alien green to a cold, lonely blue.

VIDEO:
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture looks great, not surprising considering how recent the film is. The colors are bright which does the beautiful cinematography justice.

AUDIO:
The audio is presented in three Korean language tracks. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, DTS Digital Surround, and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

EXTRAS:

Disc 1 features two commentary tracks. One with the director and the young actresses playing the sisters and a technical commentary featuring the director, cinematographer, and lighting director. Plus, a theatrical trailer.

The film is also available in a 2-disc set with the second disk featuring the following extras:

Creating "A Tale of Two Sisters" is split up into five sections:

Behind the Scenes takes a look at the making of the film through storyboards and the actual shooting of the scenes.

Production Design Featurette is an interview with the production designer, taking a look at his team working on creating the sets and costumes.

Music Score Featurette is an interview with the film's composer as he writes and records the movie's score.

CGI Documentary Featurette is a look at the special effects team.
Creating the Poster Featurette goes into how the movie's poster (which also doubles as the DVD cover) was designed.

Deleted Scenes features a dozen deleted scenes, plus an outtakes reel.

Interviews is split into seven sections. There are four interviews each featuring one of the lead actors. Plus:

An Explanation by the Director, who discusses the criticisms of the movie's somewhat confusing plot along with other horror films and directorial techniques.

Director's Thoughts on Horror repeats a bit of what was previously discussed. The director talks about his film along with others of the horror genre.

A Psychiatrist's Perspective looks at the believability of the main character's mental state.

There is also a Stills Gallery.

FILM VALUE:
I really wanted to like this film. It starts off strong and although it delves into familiar territory ("Ringu" and "The Others" comes to mind), it ultimately wraps up in a unique way. The journey from beginning to end is unfortunately a bumpy one. There were a few logic gaps that I couldn't wrap my head around, thus detracting from the overall experience of an otherwise moody and striking film.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
7
Film Value
5