A Tale Of Two Sisters

Like a fairy tale set in a haunted house, this terrifying psychological horror yarn from Korea preys upon deep-rooted fears of adolescence, insanity and evil stepparents while scaring the bejabbers out of us. After a lengthy convalescence at a sanitarium following the death of their mother, teenage Su-mi (Soo-jung Im) and her younger sister, Su-yeon (Geun-young...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Like a fairy tale set in a haunted house, this terrifying psychological horror yarn from Korea preys upon deep-rooted fears of adolescence, insanity and evil stepparents while scaring the bejabbers out of us. After a lengthy convalescence at a sanitarium following the death of their mother, teenage Su-mi (Soo-jung Im) and her younger sister, Su-yeon (Geun-young Moon), return to the dark, wooden house deep in the Korean countryside where their passive, depressed father, Mu-hyun (Kab-su Kim), lives with his second wife, Yun-ju (Jeong-a Yeom). It's an uncomfortable homecoming: Yun-ju resents the girls' reappearance nearly as much as they resent her attempts to replace their late mother, and they're both terrified of Yun-ju's weird behavior. Her moods swing violently from manic cheerfulness to brooding malevolence, she creeps around the house at night and keeps bloody, revolting things wrapped in paper in the refrigerator. Mu-hyun is no help whatsoever: He seems to find nothing unusual about his new wife and worries that Su-mi's anxieties may be indicative of an incomplete recovery. Like Snow White and Rose Red, Su-mi and Su-yeon cling to each other, the older girl promising to protect her younger sister from the clutches of their wicked stepmother. Those bare feet heard running through the empty hallways, however, don't belong Yun-ju, and even she begins to suspect there may be another kind of evil at work here, one that has infected the entire house. The film springs a number of twists that may leave you scratching your head, but when it comes to terror, writer-director Jee-woon Kim (who made 1998's THE QUIET FAMILY, the hit comedy that also served as the basis for Takashi Miike's bizarre 2001 musical THE HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS) instinctively knows that no computer-generated bogeyman is any match for a creaking floorboard, a slowly turning doorknob and a door swinging open bit by bit. He's also a master of pacing — even when you know what's coming, he still delivers a solid jolt — and 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. (In Korean, with English subtitles.)

MIXED-ISH - In "mixed-ish," Rainbow Johnson recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the '80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves. Bow's parents Paul and Alicia decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they're perceived as neither black nor white. This family's experiences illuminate the challenges of finding one's own identity when the rest of the world can't decide where you belong. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal)
MYKAL-MICHELLE HARRIS, ARICA HIMMEL, ETHAN WILLIAM CHILDRESS

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