In A Tale of Two Sisters, Su-mi and Su-yeon are released from a mental hospital where they were treated following the death of their mother. Returning home with their father, they are forced to accept his new wife, who initially seems happy to have them. However, it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems, as the stepmother takes it on herself to bully the sisters into submission.
On top of that, strange things happen, particularly when the two girls and the stepmother are alone in their respective bedrooms. They see extraordinary things and hear odd noises. It slowly becomes apparent that something is very very wrong in the house – either the girls’ mental state is deteriorating quickly, the stepmother is playing games or there is a supernatural force in the house beyond all of their control.
Su-mi, played by Im Soo-Jung and Su-yeon, played by Moon Geun-young do a superb job of performing the roles of two young sisters devastated by the loss of their mother. Su-mi, the older of the two, is fiercely protective of her little sister, who is terrified of her stepmother. They also deeply resent their father for remarrying. These are extremely difficult roles to play, especially for such young girls, but they both come through with flying colours.
The stepmother, played by Yeom Jung-ah, also gives a fantastic performance. As well as the girls, she also seems to have some mental issues and takes pills on a regular basis. Her mood swings are extreme; she swings between laughing manically to raging with temper. Again, this is a complicated role that Yeom carries off with aplomb.
Kim Dab-su, the father, is less impressive in his role, although this is mainly because he has very little to say and seems to keep his relationship with both his wife and his daughters at an absolute minimum. This is very strange at first, although his lack of a role does eventually become clear. It is difficult to say whether he is a good actor; he did an adequate job of his role, but that is about all there is to say about his performance in this role.
A Tale of Two Sisters is a superb thriller, excellent in every way. It is very confusing at times and it is not clear what is going on, but that just adds to the intrigue and may just encourage viewers to watch it all over again to try to work out what happened during the confusing parts.
The use of vivid colour, especially red and blue, and light and dark are well-used in the film, creating splashes of colour accompanied by confusion because it wasn’t quite possible to see what was going on. The camera angles were beautifully done. A favourite shot was from above the two sisters sitting at the end of a small pier; one wearing a red cardigan and lying back with her arms out-stretched. It sounds simple, but it was a really stunning image. Horror and beauty don’t always mix, but in this film, they were well-blended, making the horror all the more vivid.
Based on a Korean fairytale, the plot development was really excellent. Initially, it seemed like a relatively straightforward film, but each time the angle seemed clear, the film would go off on another tangent. Apart from the complexity of the plot, which is really an advantage anyway, it is hard to do anything but praise A Tale of Two Sisters. It is highly recommended to anyone who likes horror and psychological thrillers.