Dreamworks’ upcoming K-horror remake
A Tale of Two Sisters, directed by Charles and Thomas Guard (in their feature debut), is a remake of the Korean horror film of the same name from 2003. Shot on Bowen Island in Vancouver, Canada, “Tale” is currently in production and ShockTillYouDrop.com was lucky enough to be invited to tour the set.
The original story is about a young girl who comes home from a stint in a mental institution after the untimely death of her mother to find out that her mother’s nurse has married her father. While the young girl deals with this difficult news, she starts to suspect that her stepmother is not exactly what she pretends to be, and she begins to have terrifying visions. The American version is being directed by Thomas and Charles Guard, first-time feature directors, and is produced by Walter Parkes. Elizabeth Banks (Slither) plays the stepmother (named Rachael in this version), and David Strathairn (Dolores Claiborne) plays the father as a lonely novelist who lives in an isolated house in Maine. Emily Browning (Ghost Ship) and Arielle Kebbel (The Grudge 2) play his daughters Anna and Alex, respectively. This genre-fave cast and Asian-inspired story are highly anticipated by viewers who love a good horror, thriller and mystery story.
A large, gorgeous mansion sits on a luxuriously green hill overlooking the ocean in the midst of summer on the west coast of Vancouver. Seagulls and white sand surround the large mansion, evoking films like Cold Creek Manor and What Lies Beneath, where isolated romantic houses play a big part of the story. Where flowers didn’t bloom, or had already bloomed and faded, set decorators have added bright pink, yellow and white ones made of plastic to evoke “The lazy days of summer,” as producer Walter Parkes says. Although the outside of the mansion is idyllic and grassy, the inside is shrouded in a cold modern dÃ©cor that is easily seen as the scene of such a scary film. Reminiscent of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, wallpaper in expensive red and gold covers the walls, and massive chandeliers hang over the staircases, and velvet-covered furniture litters the many rooms. Many of these carefully thought out design plans were the work of the art directors coming up with ways to create an ambiance while facilitating the shots that the director wanted. The art department went so far as to tear out part of the staircase and re-landscape the yard to get the look and feel that they wanted. “I would say that 75 percent of the story takes place at the house,” says Parkes.
“A similar movie might be ‘What Lies Beneath,'” says Andrew Menzies, set designer, who recently worked on the film 3:10 to Yuma. “It was very bland colors because [in a lot of] American films the set is sort of a backdrop to the story. Whereas in this case, it’s more of the house is a part, is another character.” Down by the shore, the crew has built an entire boathouse which has an important role in the storyline. The amount of attention to detail on the house is staggering, including the furniture, wallpaper, fixtures, and lighting.
Stars Browning and Kebbel wait in makeup and costume for their next scenes, lounging in high-backed chairs that say the names of the directors in gold lettering on the back. Emily wears a red bathing suit and keds, Arielle is in jeans and a t-shirt. They wait in the sunny, grassy front yard of the house, discussing how this version for the story will be different from the original. 18-year-old Emily seems somewhat more reserved than the rambunctious, energetic Arielle, 4 years her senior.
“I guess, it’s, we’re trying to do it without dumbing it down too much, do you know what I mean?” says Emily Browning, who has previously been seen in Lemony Snicket and Darkness Falls. “There’s, like, kind of a few things that we had to take from the original movie and kind of do something similar. But at the same time we’re not making the same film in an English version. Because the original film is awesome. It’s really excellent. And I know it has, like, a huge fan base. So, we’re not trying to make the same film again.”
“And also I think we both agreed when we saw it that we, there was a lot of touching between sisters and a certain, very cool intimacy that they had in their relationship,” adds Kebbel. “It was really important to both of us that we kept that in this, you know, in just sort of telling our story and small things that we did.”
Directors Charles and Thomas are making a version of the film that is indeed different than the one that is told in the original Korean story. “We’re very influenced by the Asian terror, but we kind of just see it through our end, kind of, our sensibilities. So, we don’t feel that we’re kind of moving away from it too much,” says Thomas.
“Part of our job in trying to translate movies like this to an American audience is to clarify the narrative substantially so that it’s understandable to the Western audience, but not lose that certain edge of ambiguity that makes Asian cinema really fascinating,” says Parkes.
For anyone who has seen the original, you know that there is an unexpected twist at the end of the film that makes it especially chilling. The isolation of Bowen Island (it is a heavily forested area, a boat ride from Vancouver, and the mansion itself is completely locked away from other residences) adds to the suspense and loneliness of the story. “Well, I love the setting. I think it really, to film a place like this, you can, you can’t really go wrong,” smiles Menzies.
Source: Heidi Martinuzzi