Project Horror, Day 11: A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea)


If I watch another zombie movie, I'm going to leave the house in search of brains.  ¡No más!  Today we start our world tour of foreign horror films.

The last decade in horror has really been shaped by films coming out of Asia, specifically Japan.  Although American horror is sort of skewing back towards the torture/slasher end of things again, for a few years there were pretty constant remakes of movies that were originally from Japan - The Ring, The Eye, The Grudge, movies that built up tension in the audience, usually with a supernatural element, and lots of dark atmosphere.  Unfortunately, I'd seen most of these and wanted something new, so I went a little farther west and found this movie from South Korea.  Thank you to Matt Musselman for the recommendation!

This is kind of a hard movie to summarize.  After the death of their mother, two sisters return home from the hospital.  Their father has remarried, and the stepmother is very cruel to them, especially the younger sister.  While the older sister tries to protect her younger sister, she becomes more and more defiant of their stepmother, and her father either doesn't notice or chooses to remain uninvolved.  All of the women gradually become aware of an evil presence in the house, and of how it binds them together...

SPOILERS - they're bound together because they're all three separate personalities in the big sister.  The stepmom actually used to be the nurse who cared for the girls' mom while she was dying.  Mom and little sister both died at the same time and under strange circumstances, right after nurse and big sister had an argument.  Big sister suffers from split personality, and has been living the lives of all three women, which explains why her father, aside from concern about her recovery, has never been worried about her tales of abuse.

If it's difficult to summarize this movie, it's at least not difficult to say that I didn't really care for it.  I'll give some credit and say that it's still very well-made.  The director does a good job of escalating the suspense while giving you a good little jolt here and there, and the color palette of the film is really beautiful to look at.  My main problem with it is just that the split personality twist has been done.  To.  Death.  And it's not like this movie is old enough that it came in at the leading edge of that trend, either.  Identity, Psycho, Raising Cain, and High Tension are all other examples I can think of off the top of my head, and I'm sure there's plenty more if I think about it.  Hell, did you see Adaptation?  One of the movie's biggest running jokes is that Donald Kaufman's script about a split-personality serial killer is made up entirely of clichés.  Split-personality movies are beyond tired.  Prove me wrong, directors!  Make an awesome, terrifying split-personality movie and I'll come see it!

I give this movie 2 antique wardrobes out of 5. (An antique wardrobe plays into the plot, and it's the only thing I could think of to rate this movie with aside from maxipads, which also figure into the story, but which I am not going to post here because my mom may see this someday.)


Andrea G said...

Fight Club may not be a horror film, but I do like it as a split personality movie! Go ahead, judge me, you condescending so and so! ;)

Danny said...

You know what? I'm not going to judge you for that one, because I love Fight Club, too. I like it so much, that I don't even think of it as a split personality movie, even though I guess that's the twist that the whole thing turns on. I'm going to hold that one up as a standard of how to do it well. I'd already read the book when I saw the movie, though, so I knew it was coming...

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