Enveloped with a disquieting chill & a sense of foreboding from the first frame to the last, A Tale of Two Sisters is one of the creepiest films ever made. Very difficult to grasp on first viewing, it is a dark, scary & tragic psychological horror that comes pierced with supernatural elements and is presented like an enigma that requires more than one viewing to fully decipher its multitudes of layers.
Written & directed by Kim Jee-woon, this is his third feature film after The Quiet Family & The Foul King and finds the South Korean filmmaker in complete control of his craft as he translates his script on the canvas with remarkable restraint & composure. The film is as tense & frightening as it is confusing but it’s also very rewarding if you finally manage to connect all the dots and solve the puzzle.
Shot almost entirely in a single location, the house exudes an ominous aura from the moment we step into it and its remote setting provides just the right environment for the nightmares to unfurl. Cinematography is a major plus as the slow, methodical camerawork, dark colour palette & precision lighting exquisitely magnify the eerie ambience. Editing allows each moment to play out at its own pace. Sound design is spot-on, and works in tandem with the background score.
It is clear that not everything is right with our protagonist, that something is amiss with the house, and that the family is trying to recover from a dark past. There are various hints & visual motifs present throughout the picture that are keys to solving this puzzle but they are also easy to go unnoticed. The film plays with our perception of what’s real & what’s imagined and even when all the secrets are unveiled in the end, there are elements left that we are left to figure out on our own.