Release date:December 17, 2004
MPAA Rating:R (for some violence and disturbing images)
Starring:Yeom Jeong-ah, Im Soo-jung, Moon Geun-young, Lim Ji-Eun, Kim Kab-su
Once upon a time, two little girls were sent to live with their wicked stepmother in the country. Su-Mi and Su-Yeon have had to go away for a little while because they've been sick, but now they're back in the family home, deep in the countryside and at the mercy of their seriously nutty stepmom, Eun-Joo. Director Kim Ji-Won spends the first half of his movie building up the quiet, stately rhythms of family life, but if you listen carefully you can hear something rotten and dead scrabbling away beneath the floorboards. Lulled into a state of semi-hypnosis, the audience is barely prepared for the series of narrative depth charges director Kim begins to detonate, starting with one of the most surreal and uncomfortable dinner parties ever put onscreen. The screen pulses with radioactive earth tones as floral wallpaper creeps across every available surface and Yeom Jeong-A as Eun-Joo gives the most manic performance by a female lead since Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" or Faye Dunaway in "Mommie Dearest". As the ghosts begin to crawl out of the closet, and as the house itself seems to shimmer with malevolence we learn that nothing is what it seems, that appearances can be lethally deceiving, and that the ghosts of our past sins will haunt us forever. Based on a famous Korean folktale, this grim fairy tale is one of the most heart-breaking and unexpected movies about loss, guilt and grief ever made.