A Tale of Two Sisters

Reviewed by: sukting

April 26, 2009

Rating: two-point-five

How long : 120 minutes

It is a Korean ghost movie adapted from ‘The Others’. ‘A Tale of Two Sisters’ is a modern retelling of an old traditional Korean folk tale about an evil mother and her stepdaughters. It’s an old tale transformed into a modern setting.


Su-Mi (Lim Su-jeong) is with a psychiatrist. She remains unresponsive despite being questioned, until he shows her her family photo. She is brought home by her father, Moo-Hyeon (Kim Kap-su) along with her timid sister, Su-Yeong (Mun Geun-yeong). They are met by their difficult stepmother, Eun-Joo (Yum Jung-ah).

The girls are told that their uncle is visiting the next day. Eun-Joo sits alone at the table, looking frustrated eating the pills Moo-Hyeon leaves for her. The girls despise their new stepmother for taking their mother's place. They also resent Moo-Hyeon for their mother’s demise. Tensions rise as the stepmother tortures the girls.

That night, Su-Yeong awakens to find somebody entering her room. She hides under the blanket, but it is pulled from her so she flees to her sister's room in terror. Su-Mi promises Su-Yeong to protect her and they fall asleep.

Su-Mi awakens after a nightmare in which a female ghost emerged from her wardrobe. She doesn't think that it is a dream. Su-Mi looks at her mother’s photos, missing her. She is angry to find some photos of Moo-Hyeon with Eun-Joo together. Su-mi questions Su-Yeong about the bruises on her arm, but she doesn’t tell her much about them.

Eun-Joo hosts a dinner for the uncle. During the supper, Eun-Joo acts strangely while everybody else is awkwardly silent. The silence is broken by the aunt, who begins to choke and drops on the floor - she is nearly suffocated.

After the rescue, both leave. Moo-Hyeon quickly flees to the bedroom and Eun-Joo investigates under the sink. She witnesses the same sight as the aunt of seeing a ghost. This drives Eun-Joo to believe that the strange events becoming frequent are because of Su-Mi and Su-Yeong.

Eun-Joo finds that her pet bird is slain and found in Su-Yeong’s bed. She goes into a rage and locks Su-Yeong in the wardrobe. After she is freed, Moo-Hyeon asks Su-Mi what is going on. Su-Mi doesn’t answer him. She insists that the stepmother is harassing Su-Yeong and they should remove the closet, but the father insists she stops saying that as Su-Yeong is dead.

Su-Mi passes out. Things grow worse when Su-Mi wakes up to find her sister missing and believes she saw Eun-Joo dragging a bloody bag through the corridors of the house, and beating it. Su-Mi runs to the kitchen to get a knife to free her sister, but Eun-Joo attempts to stop her. A fight starts so Su-Mi is hit unconscious and dragged away.

Eun-Joo is around when Su-Mi awakens. She tells Su-Mi that there are things she wants to forget, try to forget, but she never can. Eun-Joo attempts to kill her by crushing her skull with a hard statue. Moo-Hyeon returns home to find an injured Su-Mi. The blood vanishes with Eun-Joo and the bag myssteriously. He brings Su-Mi medication, but suddenly, Su-Mi is now the stepmother. She looks up in surprise, and the real Eun-Joo is standing aside, looking sympathetic. Su-Mi takes the pills.

It is revealed that all along Su-Yeong really has been dead. Su-Mi has been acting as the stepmother and sister all along. She is suffering from severe multiple personality disorder. She is the one at dinner and is hugging herself that night. She also has the nightmare and she is beating the bag (which has a bloodied doll in it). They send Su-Mi to a mental institution but she refuses to let Eun-Joo go.

A flashback begins and Eun-Joo (stealing looks at Moo-Hyeon, who is with another woman - the mother of the girls) enters the home. Eun-Joo angers the girls, as they feel she is intruding upon them. Su-Yeong wakes up to find that her mother has hung herself in her wardrobe. She shakes the body, screaming, and is crushed to death by the wardrobe.

Eun-Joo rushes in to investigate, and discovers Su-Yeong screaming for help. She leaves instead of helping Su-Yeong, and comes across Su-Mi in the hallway. She begins to tell Su-Mi about her sister but is coldly interrupted by Su-Mi. Eun-Joo then tells the rude Su-Mi that she will regret this moment forever.

The flashback ends, and Eun-Joo is alone again. A noise comes from Su-Yeong's room. When she goes to check, the wardrobe opens and the corpse of the mother is there to kill her. It is unknown whether this is another of Su-Mi's hallucinations or a real incident. But the fact that her aunt is able to see a ghost under a table during supper, too, which may be the corpse of the mother or Su-yeong.

The movie ends with Su-Mi's face looking blank as she leaves her home, not knowing that her sister is slowly being crushed to death by the wardrobe at the very moment she walks away from her. Eun-Joo just closes the door behind her.


This film seems to support the fact that the house is home to the dead as well as the living. The film is all right, with some shocking scenes along the way. However, it becomes choppy as the film moves to a close. Is it real or just another imagination? What is really going on?

The film rekindles scenes from “The Others” and “The Sixth Sense”. But it fails to scale to their heights as the plot weakens towards the end. Yum Jung-ah, however, is quite spooky as the stepmother. She can pretend to welcome the girls back home in front of her husband but this is just forced enthusiasm. When meeting her eyes, the sisters get terrified to hold each other’s hands and try to avoid her.

The scene of her looking into the mirror is hair-raising. She wipes her lips clean – as if she has just sucked blood like a vampire. When she hears of Moo-Hyeon’s footsteps, she quickly pretends to read – how fast she changes within seconds! As for Kim Kap-su, he is just reduced to a forgettable shadow.

The two young actresses are considered all right, although not excellent. They have portrayed closeness between the sisters well. However, they are let down by the sloppy plot and you will feel that justice isn’t given to them. The spooky scenes are not as scary as they should be as I often dozed off in front of the television when the movie was shown.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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