A Tale of Two Sisters (장화, 홍련 Janghwa, Hongryeon literally ‘Rose Flower, Red Lotus’) is a 2003 South Korean psychological horror film written and directed by Kim Ji-woon.
The film is inspired by a Joseon Dynasty folktale entitled “Janghwa Hongryeon jeon”, which has been adapted to film several times.
A Tale of Two Sisters opened to very positive critical review and won Best Picture at the 2004 Fantasporto Film Festival. It is both the highest-grossing Korean horror film and the first to be screened in American theatres. An American remake titled The Uninvited was released in 2009.
The film opens with Su-mi being brought to a psychiatrist. She is unresponsive until a picture of her family is shown in front of her. She is taken home by her father, Moo-hyeon, along with her timid sister, Su-yeon. There, they are met by their difficult stepmother, Eun-joo.
During their stay, Su-mi and Su-yeon encounter a ghostly woman at night. Additionally, tensions grow worse between the sisters and Eun-joo especially after bruises are discovered on Su-yeon’s arms…
” … not all is as it seems; there are two Caligari-esque twists, hard to guess, but perfectly consonant with the set-up. The atmosphere of mounting dread is matched by just-right performances, design and camerawork.” Time Out
“Offbeat camera angles disorient the viewer, making it all the more startling when apparitions leap out of the shadows. By the time the movie reveals all its secrets, a dysfunctional family has morphed into its own kind of monster.” Noel Murray, Rolling Stone
” …while it’s entertaining to experience the twists and turns of the plot without knowing in advance where they lead, the movie is just as enjoyable and rewarding when you do know its secrets. In many ways, it’s even more rewarding on repeat viewing, even if you don’t need to go back to fill in the details you think you may have missed.” Braineater
Horror! Films to Scare You to Death by James Marriott, Kim Newman. Carlton Books, UK, 2013