A Tale of Two Sisters


Generally favorable reviews - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19

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Critic Reviews

  1. It makes for one of the best and most haunting of the recent Asian horror films.
  2. 80
    No hack job. It has more impact than your Rings, Grudges, Eyes, Dark Waters…out there and it does it with a minimum of actual on-screen scares. Finally, a real filmmaker gives it like it should be given...and it hurts so good.
  3. 80
    While all the pieces don't quite add up in the end, as memory, fantasy and delusion collide, the film succeeds again and again at pulling you to the edge of your seat and keeping you there.
  4. A triumph of stylish, darkly absurdist horror that even manages to strike a chord of Shakespearean tragedy - and evokes a sense of wonder anew at all the terrible things people do to themselves and each other.
  5. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Masterfully manipulative and bloody scary.
  6. Quite restrained for what's basically a horror movie, and very well acted.
  7. It may not be a pretty picture, but A Tale of Two Sisters is definitely a satisfying piece of less-is-more cinematic horror.
  8. 75
    A Tale of Two Sisters reminds that few things are as terrifying as our own imaginations.
  9. It's a stunningly creepy specimen of Asian horror.
  10. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    It manages to suspend disbelief without over-taxing the viewer's patience, and boasts at least one terrific performance, by actress Yeom Jeong-ah as a scary stepmom.
  11. 70
    cinematographer Mo-gai Li's keen sense of color balance and composition make this freaky fairy tale the most beautiful - if not the scariest - horror movie in ages.
  12. Either way, Kim's rather clumsily acted film remains monstrously effective ookiness, with crepuscular cinematography (by the Hollywood-destined Kim Byeong-il) that suggests a nightmare endured from inside a suffocating velvet pillowcase.
  13. In a subversion of the usual horror-movie rhythm, the central secret is revealed about halfway through.
  14. Although A Tale of Two Sisters has some excellent suspense sequences, it falters badly during the dramatic parts.
  15. 60
    Kim weaves these clichés into effectively nerve-wracking setpieces, though between the jumps, A Tale Of Two Sisters becomes mired in ponderous melodrama.
  16. the director works way too hard to cover his tracks, and the resolution is a disappointment - if you get it at all.
  17. Awkward storytelling and spotty exposition reduce it to a string of rude shocks--not even the eventual denouement provides a lucid enough account of where this is all coming from.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 55 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 23
  2. Negative: 2 out of 23
  1. Jun 1, 2012
    I loved everything about this movie. It's one of those movies that will confuse you by the end but after you go back and watch it againI loved everything about this movie. It's one of those movies that will confuse you by the end but after you go back and watch it again things start to make sense. It seems to be marketed as a horror movie but I would say it's more of a drama with some horror elements. Touching story, great cinematography, as well as a great musical score. I can't recommend this movie enough. Full Review »
  2. Nov 26, 2010
    Beautifully crafted, this story stays with you. It's complicated, and it does take a few watchings, but everytime I was able to find a newBeautifully crafted, this story stays with you. It's complicated, and it does take a few watchings, but everytime I was able to find a new clue. The unsettling and emotional ride is worth reading some subtitles. Full Review »
  3. Aug 31, 2015
    Bottom line: A Tale of Two Sisters is wonderfully chilling and offers more than a creepy premise which makes it a powerful cinematicBottom line: A Tale of Two Sisters is wonderfully chilling and offers more than a creepy premise which makes it a powerful cinematic experience.

    The movie opens to a sterile mental hospital examination room. A girl sits in a chair opposite a doctor. He asks several questions which she ignores. He shows her a picture of her family. He asks, “What happened that day?” She raises her head and looks out the window. The camera fades to a shot looking out the back passenger window of a car as it drives through the forest, over a bridge and along a lake. Peacefully sad guitar/violin music plays as the car approaches an imposing house.

    The opening shots juxtapose the ominous house with peaceful music. The intersection of scary images and not scary music isn’t new, Insidious, for example, plays Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Though the Tulips” but I don’t think this is what A Tale of Two Sisters is attempting. In some movies, we know that what we are watching a retelling of an event. The movie then becomes a something like a campfire ghost story. A Tale of Two Sisters presents the events after the fact but as a ‘story’ instead of a ‘ghost story’.

    I have said time and time again that I hate horror movies. Even if they are of poor quality, I can never sleep after watching them. At the same time, I loved A Tale of Two Sisters. I loved it so much it makes me rethink my relationship with horror. I was genuinely scared during portions of the movie and yet, I slept soundly that night. As I write this, I smile because it was such a fun experience. I will go into more detail below but I hesitate to tell you much more because I did have fun trying to anticipate the story. Let us discuss a scene, the stepmother’s introduction, in the hopes of describing why A Tale of Two Sisters is so brilliant.

    The two sisters, holding hands, timidly enter the large, silent, dimly lit house. Cutting the silence, we hear the stepmother saying, “Welcome home!” The camera cuts to a long shot of a long, dark hallway. The stepmother approaches the still camera. She speaks quickly and walks so smoothly it looks like she is floating instead of walking. The suddenness of her presence makes you want to recoil but the still camera prevents the reaction. Standing firm, the sensation of helplessness prolongs until we cut to her point of view. The two girls watch her (looking into the camera) and tense up. The collision of her swiftness and the previous still camera prolongs the sense of lack of control because even though we are moving we are not in control. Sure, we are never in control of the camera but we don’t usually realize it.

    A Tale of Two Sisters is on top of its game. The music, cinematography and acting harmonize to make a complete experience that I highly recommend. The quality of the movie, rather than cheap scares, leaves a lasting impression. I’ve heard people liken horror movies to a roller coaster ride. The emphasis of the analogy is that horror movies thrive on cheap thrills and that the audience doesn’t anticipate what is happening next. I disagree with the analogy but let’s expand it a little. A roller coaster takes you for a ride but it brings you back to where you started. A typical horror movie, for me, is like driving off-road through the woods. It is bumpy and maybe exciting but when all is said and done, the driver (the movie) leaves you in the scary woods alone. I leave the theater with nightmares and paranoia. A Tale of Two Sisters is actually like a roller coaster ride because it takes you into a frightening situation but brings you back; the movie positions itself and the audience together in a discussion that is more complex than ‘a murdered child-ghost wants revenge.’ I’ve seen it twice so far and look forward to seeing it again.
    Full Review »