In this case, Sisters is a remake of Sisters (1973). Sisters 1973 was the first of the psycho-thrillers directed by Brian De Palma who went onto make a name for himself with his visually dazzling and sexually provocative thrillers throughout the 70s and early 80s, including the likes of Dressed to Kill (1980), Blow Out (1981) and Body Double (1984). With the films wild mix of Siamese twins, disturbed psychiatrists and De Palmas stylistic effects and games of reality and illusion, Sisters gained a considerable word of mouth acclaim. It remains one of Brian De Palmas best psycho-thrillers.
The Sisters remake comes from Douglas Buck, a newcomer director who had previously made three short horror films that were collected and released as Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America (2003). Bucks one professional credit had been as co-writer of the Troma film Terror Firmer (1999). Unfortunately for Buck, Sisters went directly to dvd in all territories where it attracted next-to-zero attention, unlike most of the abovementioned horror remakes.
The story remains essentially the same as the original but a number of fundamental changes have been made. The most notable difference is the change of the beginning in the original, the equivalent of Dallas Roberts character meets Angelique (Margot Kidders Danielle) on a Candid Camera-type tv gameshow and she invites him back to her apartment. Here this has been changed in order to introduce the sinister psychiatrist earlier in the show now Dallas Roberts is a doctor who meets Angelique/Danielle when the sinister psychiatrist (Stephen Rea) comes to put on a magic show at the asylum where he works. This disappointingly lacks the sense the original had where De Palma kept fucking with the audiences expectations, pulling back from what we believe to be an embarrassing incident to reveal it is a staged tv show and then heading off in a completely different direction. Chloe Sevignys reporter now witnesses the murder take place on closed circuit tv rather than across the street from the apartment, which works as an acceptable change. For some reason, the body is now improbably buried inside a tv set rather than a fold-up couch you keep wondering why the investigating police fail to find the wiring and circuitry Stephen Rea must have had to tear out in order to pack the body in. Charles Durnings private detective who follows the trail of the couch with the missing body now becomes Chloe Sevignys boyfriend (J.R. Bourne) and this subplot peters out rather than is followed to the end.
The biggest disappointment about the remake is the ending. [PLOT SPOILERS]. We get Chloe Sevigny sneaking into the asylum then undergoing the dream scene from the original where she sees herself as the dead twin. Now she inexplicably emerges from this having become the dead twin, with her hair turned dark and in the last shot walking off alongside Lou Doillon and both of them dressed in young girls dresses. The original by comparison held a disturbingly downbeat bleakness as it ended with the heroine hypnotised by the psychiatrist and unable to talk about the murder she had witnessed and with the detective left sitting up a power pole watching the couch abandoned in the middle of nowhere. The ending here makes no real sense.
On its own and without comparison to the De Palma film, one supposes that Douglas Buck captures a certain sinister effect at times. There is undeniable suspense created during Chloe Sevignys venture into Stephen Reas office. The film is certainly very gory. However, in comparison to Brian De Palmas virtuoso stylism he telling the story in two split screen streams at one point Douglas Buck is a journeyman director. Without De Palmas twists and illusions, the remake cannot help but feel as though the original has been simplified and dumbed down to become a straightforward and routine thriller that is destined to fill the cut-price video rental bins at best. One should at least commend Sisters for being a US film that shoots in Canada and allows Vancouver to stand in and be itself rather than pretending to be a US city.
Sisters does feature the lovely French actress Lou Doillon in the role of the twin sisters where Doillons beauty acts as an exquisite enigma. Chloe Sevigny, an actress who has a tendency to seem either morose or stoned, gives a relatively normal performance for once. It still fails to make Sisters anything memorable.
Douglas Buck subsequently stayed within the horror genre to make the The Accident episode of the horror anthology The Theatre Bizarre (2011).