The Evil Twin/전설의 고향 (2007) – ★★★☆☆

Two sisters, one mysterious bracelet, and a rapidly growing body count.
Two sisters, one mysterious bracelet, and a rapidly growing body count.
The Evil Twin is another in a long line of stylish Korean horror films that touches on familiar territory, such as relationships between sisters, jealousy, good and evil, doubles, and guilt, though maybe a tad less successfully than its better-known predecessor, A Tale of Two Sisters.

The Evil Twin employs a non-linear timeline as it jumps from “present day” to flashbacks of the protagonist So-yeon’s childhood and back again, and also follows multiple characters as the storyline—and the central mystery—unfolds.

Nothing in The Evil Twin is quite as it seems. One moment, So-yeon is docile and kind; the next moment she’s wearing a knowing smirk that hints at something dark just beyond the surface. And what exactly is So-yeon’s mother keeping from her?

It turns out that So-yeon is actually Hyo-jin; her mother has been feeding her lies about her identity since she woke up from a ten-year coma (that was brought on by the childhood accident that killed her sister).

Worse yet is the fact the mother is directly responsible for Hyo-jin’s death (at least, the girl we are told is Hyo-jin for most of the movie; in actuality, the dead girl is So-yeon). So-yeon, the “evil twin,” decided to play a prank on her sister that goes horribly wrong and leads to both girls falling off the bridge and into the lake.

The mother tries to save her daughters, but when faced with the choice between saving So-yeon and saving Hyo-jin, she chooses So-yeon, her favorite, because of the bracelet she’s wearing. The mother doesn’t find out until later that So-yeon had given Hyo-jin her bracelet to wear; she chose the wrong daughter. The “evil twin” So-yeon becomes a vengeful spirit that blames Hyo-jin for her death, and the dual roles are played quite well by Park Shin-Hye.

While the movie was enjoyable, there wasn’t much coherency to the plot. It’s entirely possible that could be due to extremely shoddy subtitles, but it seems doubtful clearer subtitles would have helped that much. For one, it’s not quite clear if So-yeon is the villain or another victim until the climax of the film, when the truth behind her sister Hyo-jin’s death is finally revealed. The film tries to hint at So-yeon’s role in her sister’s death and her true identity, but it’s muddled enough that I thought So-yeon simply had multiple personality disorder at first. I think I would have enjoyed the movie more if that had been made a little clearer earlier, or if the film hadn’t been so coy for most of its running time.

The business with So-yeon’s bracelet was also a bit confusing, though it served as the film’s catalyst—and plays an important role in Hyo-jin’s accidental death. It’s not quite clear which sister the bracelet belonged to and which sister was wearing it when the accident occurred, and why until the climactic flashbacks explain why the bracelet is so important. It would have been nice to have some clarity with regards to the bracelet’s provenance a little earlier, so that the climax packs more of a punch and the audience (of me, at least) isn’t left so confused.

Overall, The Evil Twin is an enjoyable hour and a half of Korean supernatural horror. While not quite as meaty or thought-provoking as A Tale of Two Sisters, it’s still a decent movie and covers similar ground. Both films look at guilt, though A Tale of Two Sisters does it a little more successfully.

Look at it like this: A Tale of Two Sisters is a nice meal at an expensive, five-star eatery. The Evil Twin is a meal at your reliable chain restaurant; the quality isn’t as good, but it gets the job done.

The Evil Twin/전설의 고향 came out in 2007 and was directed by Kim Ji-Hwan.

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