DVD Review

East Side Gory

EW reviews three Asian horror imports on DVD -- We take a closer look at Korean thrillers ''A Tale of Two Sisters,'' and ''Momento Mori,'' as well as Hong Kong's ''Koma''

EW reviews three Asian horror imports on DVD

Other than anything starring Will Smith, the most bankable product in Hollywood these days is a remake of an Asian horror film. It's worked out well for Naomi Watts and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and it's also been a boon for the overseas originals, with many genre titles making their way to DVD on Tartan's Asia Extreme imprint — often with bloody good bonus materials.

Best of the bunch is Kim Jee-Woon's Korean psychological mind-scramble, A Tale of Two Sisters, which explores the complex relationship between two girls and their seemingly psychotic stepmother. Beautifully shot and disturbingly oblique, Tale has twists, turns, and a moody presence more unnerving than any mere ghost. . .although there is one of those, too. (No wonder DreamWorks has purchased the remake rights.) Insightful cast interviews, deleted scenes, and dual commentary tracks make this two-disc set an ideal introduction to the genre.

Considerably more straight-forward is Hong Kong's Koma, a conventional thriller that explores the urban legend of kidney thievery through two women who may or may not be on opposite ends of the knife. Many of the developments border on clumsy, but a slew of unforgettable images (think naked bloody woman emerging from a bathtub of ice), as well as a haunting chemistry between the two female leads, help compensate for the parts that simply make no sense.

Memento Mori begins as an intriguing story about a girl who finds a diary written by two lesbian classmates. Nothing scary about that. But when one of the authors appears to have committed suicide, things start to get spooky. . .and, unfortunately, a bit silly, with an apocalyptic ending that obscures what is until that point an eerily introspective affair. Who knows? Maybe they can fix it in the remake. Tale: A-
Koma: B
Mori: B-

Originally posted Apr 11, 2005 Published in issue #815 Apr 15, 2005 Order article reprints