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A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
aka JANGHWA, HONGRYEON
USA & UK: Tartan Films
Cast: Im Soo-jung, Yeom Jeong-a, Moon Geun-young, Kim Kab-su
Director: Kim Jee-Woon
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean (English subtitles)
USA & UK: 115 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains moderate horror and violence
USA Release Date: 3 December 2004 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 13 August 2004
If you were thrilled by Hideo Nakata's DARK WATER, you will love the nerve-wrenching twists and turns of Korean director, Kim Jee-woon's A TALE OF TWO SISTERS; a psychological horror whose scares more than rival its Japanese counterparts. Loosely based on an old Korean folk tale, Janghwa & Hongryun, that has been filmed no less than five times previously, Kim Jee-woon's A TALE OF TWO SISTERS updates the story to a contemporary setting, whilst retaining the scary, sad and touching elements of the original.
Whereas earlier versions of the story dealt with the issue of morality in the form of the classical battle between good and evil, Kim Jee-woon's atmospheric version constitutes the director's perspective on social conflict and the anxiety in its portrayal of a dysfunctional family life. Previously known for his black comedies, THE QUIET FAMILY and THE FOUL KING, confessed horror buff Kim Jee-woon has made a pure horror film, excluding all traces of comedy. The luxurious decor of the house acts as a contrast with the inhibited, neurotic behaviour of the sisters, adding an eerie tension to the film, underlying the story's dramatic twists, whose unexpected denouement will send chills down your spine. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS was Korea's third grossing movie of 2003 and Dreamworks have acquired the US remake rights, and are due to start production in August 2004.
Su-mi and Su-yeon return home after an extended illness and hospital stay. Things have not been the same since their mother passed away. Their return is welcomed by Eun-joo, their stepmother. It's evident that Su-mi, the older and stronger of the two, isn't afraid to speak her mind when it comes to their family troubles. Su-yeon is more timid and wary of their stepmother and looks to Su-mi for help. Continually picked on and harassed by their stepmother, the two have no choice but to endure the relationship for their father's sake. Su-mi promises Su-yeon that she will never let their stepmother beat them again.
Unexplainable things start to occur at the house. Something has changed, no one knows what it is, but the sisters can feel it. On their first night back, Su-yeon hears someone running up the stairs, opening her door, and walking up to her bed. As soon as she pulls the covers over her head, they are pulled right off, yet no one is around. Could it be their stepmother trying to torment them? Or could it be that there's something more sinister at work, a supernatural force in the houses that wants to drive everyone away?