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The Reel Less Traveled

December 27, 2007|KEVIN CRUST

Nothing says "happy holidays" quite like Korean horror. So the Silent Movie Theatre couldn't have picked a better time to show the 2003 chiller "A Tale of Two Sisters" as part of its Contemporary Korean Cinema series at 7 p.m. Sunday. Dripping with menace and foreboding, Kim Jee-woon's stylishly spooky psychological thriller opens in a mental hospital with a traumatized teen being questioned about an unspeakable event.

Su-mi's (Im Su-jeong) memories drift back to a time when she and her sister, Su-yeon (Mun Geun-yeong), return to their remote lakeside home after a medical respite. The girls get a frosty greeting from their young stepmother, with whom Su-mi clashes. But the moody, seemingly irrational mother focuses her wrath on the young Su-yeon, all of this bypassing the girls' studiously oblivious father.

Director Kim works the atmospheric chills for the first half of the film, keeping the audience suitably on edge as the off-kilter dynamic of the household eerily unfolds. The darkly luxurious setting quietly slides into the realm of the haunted as the girls are bedeviled by nightmares. If Korean Gothic exists, this is it. A few genuinely surprising twists will keep you grasping along with the characters for the truth.

And yes, as a matter of fact, there is a U.S. remake in the works, due from DreamWorks in 2008.

-- Kevin.Crust@latimes.com

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