Horror films have the ability to blend extremes. They can take evil and intertwine it with goodness. They can make blood, gore, and death seem so tragically beautiful. A Tale of Two Sisters is a masterful creation that intertwines so many emotions that the viewer is left with what I believe is a complete horror film. Writing a review is difficult because I cannot explain much of the plot without giving away spoilers, but the main premise revolves around Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) and her relationship with her father, stepmother, and sister.
This movie is also incredibly difficult to classify under a genre. The viewer should be aware of supernatural, ghost, and serial killer aspects. Due to the psychological nature of the film, I felt that supernatural best described the movie as a whole, but individuals may believe that this film is completely incapable of being put into a box. Every single aspect of this film is so brilliantly crafted. The music is ominous, but has moments of extreme energy. The lighting gives the viewer shades of blue, red, green and every other color. The writing is brilliant simply for its Spartan qualities. This movie is built like a cinematic puzzle, with the viewer being asked to piece together what is real and what is not. The acting is flawless, with emotions ranging from delirium to genuine worry. This horror movie is high in something that most horror movies aren’t: repeatability. The viewer will want to watch the film over and over to see details and plot lines they missed the first time through. This film is rich in culture. Most J-horror, or any horror in fact, embodies the culture from which it was created. A Tale of Two Sisters incorporates Japanese myths, while also making foreign viewers connect with the lead actress through empathy. Trauma is a major part of the lead character's persona and this movie prescribes to the philosophy that our past defines who we are.
Jaded horror fans that are in it simply for the gore may be disappointed. This movie isn’t about splatter, but rather about decadent and detailed points that combine to create a beautiful experience. The film is so rich, that its long run time (close to two hours) goes by without any dry moments. A two-hour horror movie that blends genres and makes the viewer want to watch it again and again, how much better can it get? Writing a review beautiful enough to match this movie is impossible, so I will simply state that any fan of horror, not just J-horror, but horror in general, has to see this film.
Horror island isn’t bringing on a specific creature, but rather an embodiment of why horror is worth being saved. It has the ability to be so much more than cheap thrills, and A Tale of Two Sisters is the perfect example of horror as an art.
If you liked A Tale of Two Sisters, you might also like Silent House and Rogue River.