Thursday, July 14, 2011

Asian Horror Film Review 1 - A Tale of Two Sisters

Alright, so just to keep all my options open in this blog, I'll also be doing some reviews on Asian Horror Films.  I have grown increasingly obsessed over AHFs over the years, and I'd like to discuss some of my favorite ones.  The first one will be the very movie that got me turned onto AHFs, a Korean film called A Tale of Two Sisters.

Two sisters who, after spending time in a mental institution, return to the home of their father and cruel stepmother. Once there, in addition to dealing with their stepmother's obsessive and unbalanced ways, an interfering ghost also affects their recovery.


Sumi is the older sister who seems to be angered by her mother's death.  She is very protective of her younger sister, Suyeon, and comforts her and sticks up for her.  She shows a lot of hostility towards her father's new wife, probably because she has replaced her dead mother.

Suyeon is the younger sister of Sumi.  She is very quite and only speaks to Sumi and usually follows in her sister's steps.  Right away, her sadness tells you that she is the most effected by her mother's death.  While Sumi is hostile towards the step mother, she is very timid around her, mostly because she is afraid of what she might do to her.  Throughout the movie, you will also begin to notice that Suyeon has a dark secret.  Without spoiling anything, moving on...

The Stepmother
Obviously, the viewer is meant to hate the stepmother, almost like a Cinderella deal.  While she is very proper and seems to be a good housewife, she is rude and particular around Sumi and Suyeon.  After a while, she becomes a bit intimated by Sumi and resorts to only picking on Suyeon harshly.  She seems to also be haunted by something in the house, which she assumes to be associated with the sisters.

Ok, so at first glance, this movie seems like it would be empowering and full of drama and maybe sad.  This only lasts for about a moment when you realize that the sisters and the stepmother are very bothered by something supernatural in the house.  Though it seems to only be a dream for a while, they ignore it for a while.  As it increasingly gets worse, the true nature of the characters come to life.

I have to admit, this movie started off a bit slow for me.  It still keeps my interest, but you don't quite think it's a horror film until about 30-40 minutes into the movie.  As most Asian Horror Films do, there are a lot of creepy scenes that had me shaken a bit, but there's a good balance and it's not all just jump-out-of-the-closet-cheap-scares that American movies create. 

This is a plot twist, or two, I should say.  And without spoiling anything, I would say the closest clue I can give is the cover (the first photo shown).  The stepmother grasping Sumi's shoulders, the father who isn't touching anybody, the younger sister Suyeon slumped over to the side.  It may not be a big clue to you yet, but once you watch the movie, the cover will suddenly make sense to you, trust me.  That cover is a piece of art to capture the horrors of the movie so accurately without even noticing it.

Overall, this movie would receive a 8/10 stars.  It's slow and misleading at first, but the plot twist and scary scenes make up for it.  There is no gore, but the movie is a bit disturbing in other ways.  If you are looking for a good example of why Asian Horror Films are different and better in nature than American horror films, then this movie is perfect for you.  Enjoy!

The American Remake
As all perfectly simple Asian Horror Film, America has to rip the storyline and create it into something corny and weak that doesn't add up to it's Asian counterpart.  The movie is called "The Uninvited."

Now if you're reading this and you've already seen this movie, that's a real shame, because the plot twist was completely ripped from "A Tale of Two Sisters".  While I must admit, this was a horrible remake of the Asian version, the film "The Uninvited" by itself was ok.  The plot was a bit cliche, but it made up for it with convincing acting and pretty awesome plot twist.  There are a lot of differences in the remake.  For one, the stepmother isn't as cruel than the Asian version, but more so psychotic than anything.  The motives behind the stepmother are entirely different as well. 

The only thing I liked about "The Uninvited" that I liked better than "A Tale of Two Sisters" was the ending.  While they shared the same plot twist at the end, I really like the connection that one of the sisters had to it.  That may sound a little confusing to you, but I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm trying not to reveal much.  The twist ending in "A Tale of Two Sisters" comes as a surprise to not only the audience, but the sister Sumi as well.  Ugh, I'm sure I just confused the shit out of you, sorry, but I really don't want to spoil the plot.

Overall, I would prefer "A Tale of Two Sisters" over "The Uninvited".  But watched them one after the other is interested to see the differences because they were both pretty well done in their own unique way.  If you haven't seen any of them, I would watch the original first and then move onto the remake.  Have fun watching and enjoy!!!

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