Monster Fest Film Review: Dearest Sister (Laos, 2016) has an identity crisis

Laos director Mattie Do’s sophomore film Dearest Sister has an identity crisis. It just isn’t sure what story it wants to tell. And its an issue that is never repaired throughout its needless 100 minute running time.

When Nok goes to stay with her blind and affluent sister Ana, the two begin fighting after Nok finds out that Ana can talk to the dead and gain information, and begins using this gift for selfish reasons.

The main problem with Dearest Sister is that it’s just really plain. There is nothing striking about the film, be it the acting, dialogue, narrative or aesthetic. Everything just goes of plods along, relying on uninteresting sub-plots to provide padding.

The supernatural element takes a back seat to Nok’s self serving attitude and instead of placing a whole lot of emphasis on WHY Ana can see dead people, more is placed on how Nok takes advantage of it. This puts Dearest Sister in drama territory, providing conflict and unrest between the two leads but effectively robbing it of the heavier of the two plots. It feels disconnected, as though the premonition aspect of the film was slipped in as a contrived way of exposing Nok’s true character.

There is potential for a nice family crisis-type narrative to unfold but Dearest Sister never delves deep enough into any of its stories to really engage. So much time is spent on unnecessary characters and redundant scenes, that the films attempt at a suspenseful climax is all but squandered.

Dearest Sister is abundantly forgettable. It does nothing to pull you in and it doesn’t help that it goes for about 20 minutes too long. It’s a film that can barely justify its existence, not because it’s horrendous, but because it is so painfully flat that that you have to remind yourself that this medium is supposed to exist as a form of entertainment.

Review Score: ONE STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

Dearest Sister screened as part of Monster Fest.

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