The central fear in Kim Jee-Woon’s “A Tale of Two Sisters” is that of remembering–not anxiety, not that sick dread at the pit of the stomach, when, the camera, in such impossible grace, creeps into that earthen closet, suggesting that something is in it when there’s nothing at all. It’s having to remember the past that fears us thus making the demons (which we create ourselves) haunt us. Mo-gae Lee’s slow-moving photography–the subdued palette, the perfect symmetry, the discordant angles–assures our memory of this particular fear. His images sway in waltz, and linger long after our perception of them.
Even the film is a curious memory; or, a mere portion of the protagonist’s psyche, which, it may be argued with, is all but unreliable. Soo-mi (Lim Su-Jeong) has a labyrinth of a mind, or perhaps a fragile core and a defensive nature, all of which, in the ambiguous (if contrived) aftermath of a tragedy months before the film’s beginnings, show in striking brilliance. She hates her father Moo-Hyeon (Kim Kap-Su), and by great degrees worse her stepmother Eun-Joo (an excellent performance from Yum Jung-ah), who, frequently harasses her docile sister Soo-yeon (Moon Geun-Young).
A passing moment–awfully familiar and still–takes one final tick in the clock. All is lost in madness. She hears the words. “You might regret this moment,” that woman whispers, and she remembers it only vaguely, but never can she wipe it off her mind. Even in the fringes of insanity, she can’t forget it. That moment.
RATING: 3 stars (out of 4)
Sidenote: ”World of Terror,” a small collection of reviews of horror films from different countries, is moving slower as originally planned; please allow until the 7th of November for all reviews to be published. Thanks!