A Tale of Two Sisters vs. The Univited

Being blown-away by the creepiness of A Tale of Two Sisters long ago at a midnight SIFF showing, I was apprehensive about the US version, but still curious enough to want to see it-obviously not that badly, since I just recently caught it on DVD. But man, did they fuck it up.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing up a few things when you’re doing a remake (re: The Grudge or The Ring), but to almost totally rewrite it, while still trying to grasp stand-out scenes just does. not. work. The good news: if you’ve seen The Uninvited, it won’t ruin the original for you. The bad news: you’ve seen The Uninvited.

Anyway, after re-watching AToTS  to refresh my memory, I think I’ve broken down the reasons why the 2009 version failed. I’m trying to be spoiler-free here, but forgive me if I give away something.

1. The Sisters

It all boils down to the relationship between the two girls. In Ji-woon Kim’s Two Sisters, there’s a joy & closeness you feel between them RIGHT away. They clearly love each other, and are sad they’ve been separated. They hold hands, they hug, they do everything together. In The Uninvited, it takes awhile for the 2nd sister to show up, and when she does she’s sullen, angry, and so unlikeable that I don’t see how anyone could form a connection with her. Plus, I don’t think they ever actually touch.

2. The Stepmom

I love Elizabeth Banks dearly. But did I buy that she could be scary murderer? No sir. Bitchy yes. Poison/knife/fire-wielding, no. In contrast, Jung-ah Yum is frightening from the moment she steps on screen. Maniacal, throwing out veiled insults-even her smile is horrific. She’s amazing. You automatically KNOW she’s going to do something bad.

The photos above are a perfect example of what I mean. AToTS stepmom looms in the background looking super-scary. Uninvited’s Banks is blurred out and hardly noticeable.

3. The Ghosts

The Uninvited kept all the supernatural occurrences focused on one sister. She’s the only one that saw anything strange, was visited by creepy deformed ghosts, or believed someone dead was trying to tell her something. A Tale of Two Sisters extended the supernatural element out to others in the film-making sure you know it’s not just the imagination of one character. There’s definitely something wrong in that house.

4. Changing the story too much

I understand the reasons for wanting to rewrite this, I really do. But what’s confusing to me is that they tried to keep some visual elements exactly the same as AToTS (bruises, hallway blood trails, a few ghost-y scares) but then didn’t follow through with the same explanation for them. And I’m sorry – but you could spot the ending of The Uninvited from 10 miles away. The ending of Two Sisters is friggin’ fantastic. All the little details pointing to it suddenly add up and you’re like “OH! My! GOD! RIGHT!”. As opposed to The Uninvited, which left me saying “Oh. Really? That was obvious”.

Bottom line: A Tale of Two Sisters = scary good fun. The Univited = meh. I think you know which one to see.

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