->''“Do you know what’s really scary? You want to forget something. Totally wipe it out of your mind. But you never can. It can’t go away, you see. And it follows you around like a ghost.”''

'''''A Tale of Two Sisters''''' (aka ''Janghwa, Hongryeon'', literally ''Rose Flower, Red Lotus'') is a 2003 South Korean psychological horror film by Kim Ji-woon. It is both the highest-grossing Korean horror film and the first to be screened in American theatres.

The film is inspired by a Joseon Dynasty folktale entitled ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janghwa_Hongryeon_jeon Janghwa Hongryeon jeon]]'', which has been adapted to film several times. [[ForeignRemake An American remake]] titled ''Film/TheUninvited'' was released in 2009 — not to be confused with a completely different Korean horror film from 2003 also titled ''The Uninvited'', nor the 1944 American film of that name.

The film centers around two teenage sisters, the older Su-mi and the younger Su-yeon, returning to their father Moo-hyeon's house after a stay in a mental institution following the death of their mother. They frequently clash with their new stepmother (formerly their mother's nurse), Eun-ju, who behaves in an incredibly difficult manner around them (and who becomes increasingly cruel and erratic over the course of the film). Coinciding with their return home, however, are several eerie and frightening events (doors opening by themselves, bizarre apparitions, strange sounds, and terrifying nightmares, amongst other things), and it quickly becomes uncertain if these events are real, a product of the girls' disturbed mental states, or the cruel mind games played by Eun-ju. Or is it something else entirely?

Known for having multiple unexpected plot twists and [[MindScrew being very open to interpretation]].

Definitely not to be confused with ''ATaleOfTwoCities''.

'''Warning: Some unmarked spoilers below.'''


[[folder:General tropes]]
!!'''This film contains examples of:'''

* AdultFear: Moo-hyeon has already lost his wife. Not only that, but [[spoiler: he lost his youngest daughter ''on the very same day'' as his wife's death, and his eldest daughter not only hates him, but is also severely mentally unstable]].
* AluminumChristmasTrees: In this film, there is a lot of stuff that goes on that doesn't immediately make sense and you have to think about it in order to get what is going on. Therefore, Western viewers can be forgiven for the EpilepticTrees they come up with in trying to deduce the symbolism of the tents right by the road in the scene where the girls' uncle and his wife are driving at night. These tents are actually a common sight in rural areas of Korea as they serve an agricultural purpose.
* AxCrazy: Eun-ju near the end of the film... [[spoiler:at least, Su-mi's depiction of her.]]
* BigFancyHouse: Much of the film is set in the girls' vast family home.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Eun-ju.
* BodyHorror: The burned appearance of [[spoiler:the girl under the sink]], and the hand emerging from [[spoiler:between the ghost's legs]].
* BolivianArmyEnding / DownerEnding: [[spoiler:Su-mi, whose condition has only got worse ever since coming home, is committed once again to a psychiatric hospital, and it is uncertain when or if she will get better. Also, the presence of a ghost turns out to be RealAfterAll and attacks Eun-ju, with the latter's ultimate fate unclear.]]
* BreakTheCutie: Su-mi comes conveniently pre-broken. Also, [[spoiler:Su-yeon, [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation if you believe]] [[MindScrew her ghost really was there at all]]]].
* BrokenBird: Su-mi.
* CatapultNightmare: Su-mi, following the "ghost in the bedroom" night terror.
* ChekhovsGun: The photographs, the scissors Su-mi uses to cut open the sack, and, of course, the wardrobe.
* ColorCodedCharacters / ColorMotif: This may or may not be intentional, but Su-yeon is often shown wearing light colours and shades (usually white), Su-mi is usually shown in brighter colours with some exceptions, and Eun-ju often wears darker, (and richer) colours in shiny fabrics. Moo-hyeon, in comparison, is often shown wearing bland colours and shades. Towards the end, Eun-ju swaps her richer colours for a white dress to illustrate that [[spoiler:she and Su-mi are the same person]]. Furthermore, [[spoiler:the ''real'' Eun-ju is usually depicted in black - she is wearing a black suit when she turns up at the end and wears a black knitted sweater in the flashback]].
* CreepyDoll: Although it is completely inanimate, and is used to both enhance the mood of the film, and to [[spoiler:further the plot towards the end]].
** There are also several in Su-yeon's room.
* DemonicPossession: May or may not happen, briefly, during [[spoiler:the dinner scene.]]
* DeniedFoodAsPunishment: The flashback sequence shows Eun-ju snatching Su-yeon's spoon away... [[KickTheDog purely because Su-mi had stormed away from the table]].
* DisproportionateRetribution: [[spoiler: Eun-ju leaves Su-yeon to die under the wardrobe because of a confrontation she had with Su-mi, who was resentful of her due to [[YourCheatingHeart stealing her father away from her mother]].]]
* DramaticIrony: In the epilogue flashback, Eun-ju warns Su-mi that she "might regret this moment". Su-mi, very much unaware that [[spoiler:her mother is dead and Su-yeon is dying]], sneers back that [[TemptingFate she cannot imagine anything worse than being right there in Eun-ju's presence]].
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:The girls' mother]], although [[MindScrew not every viewer agrees on this]]. Also, in the alternate ending, [[spoiler:Su-mi]].
* EeriePaleSkinnedBrunette: See StringyHairedGhostGirl below.
* ElephantInTheLivingRoom: The cupboard in Su-yeon's room (indeed, Moo-hyeon chastises Su-mi for bringing it up, as they had agreed to [[LetUsNeverSpeakOfThisAgain never talk about it]]), although the reason why isn't revealed until the end.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: See TheReveal.
* FauxHorrorFilm: Arguably, unless you take into account the supernatural elements that may or may not be actually happening.
* ForeignRemake: ''The Uninvited''.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: All over the place:
** In the very first scene, Su-mi's psychiatrist [[spoiler: asks her who she thinks she is - a clue toward's Su-mi's multiple personalities.]]
** As the sisters are relaxing at the wharf, Su-mi reads Su-yeon's palm... after which her face falls and the scene takes on an ominous tone. [[spoiler:She was reading her sister's tragic fate.]]
** During the balcony scene, the extended shot with Moo-hyeon talking to Su-mi [[spoiler:has Su-yeon cropped out of frame]].
*** On a related note, Moo-hyeon never, at any point, [[spoiler:directly communicates with Su-yeon.]]
*** During the same balcony scene, Su-mi whistles a tune that was a favourite of her mother's. The same tune is heard in the house towards the end, [[spoiler:luring Eun-ju to her (possible) doom.]]
** Also on the balcony, after Su-mi leaves, Su-yeon notices that the birds have suddenly died. [[spoiler:It is later revealed that Su-mi killed them.]]
** After Su-mi and Eun-ju's fight, and very shortly before TheReveal, [[spoiler:Su-mi is bearing the same hand wound as Eun-ju, and Eun-ju has the same blood splatters on her dress.]]
** When Mi-hee is having a seizure, her movements at one point resemble [[spoiler:Su-yeon's struggling after the wardrobe falls on her.]]
** Su-yeon, Eun-ju and Su-mi all getting their periods on the same day.
** Su-yeon's fear of the wardrobe.
** When Su-mi first enters her room, she discovers an identical notebook set in her bureau and identical items of clothing in her wardrobe, and Eun-ju discovers an identical pile of laundry on the floor. [[spoiler:This is because Su-mi's multiple personalities were all performing the same actions.]]
** Eun-ju's medication.
** Su-mi's nightmares contain brief flashes of [[spoiler:Su-yeon being crushed by the wardrobe.]]
** As Su-mi heads to the storage shed, she stops and glances behind her, as though sensing something. [[spoiler:She did the same action in the past when walking away from the house as Su-yeon died.]]
** The dinner scene, just before Mi-hee has her seizure. The reason everybody is looking awkward and embarrassed as Eun-ju gleefully recounts old tales is much more than it appears.
* FreezeFrameBonus: In a (horribly creepy) deleted scene, Su-mi is looking in the fridge, and, ''just'' as she's closing the door, something that appears to the the back of someone's head can be seen sitting on one of the fridge shelves for a split second. (Su-mi herself actually realises this just after she's closed the door, and yanks it open again... to find nothing there. Brrr.)
** The appearance of [[spoiler:the girl in the green dress (theorised by some to be Su-yeon, and is most likely the girl under the sink, due to the fact that they seem to be wearing the same dress)]] during the "girl under the sink" scene could be considered this, as she initially appears behind Eun-ju for a few seconds before the shot changes.
* GhostlyChill: Used to great effect [[spoiler:when Eun-ju enters Su-yeon's bedroom towards the end of the film]].
* GhostlyGoals: [[spoiler:Or are there?]]
* HowWeGotHere: Well, [[MindScrew perhaps]]. The opening scene [[spoiler:showing Su-mi in the psychiatric hospital could be an example of this trope, or it could simply be depicting her first stay at the hospital]].
* IllGirl: The girls' mother.
* ImpaledPalm: [[spoiler: Su-mi stabs Eun-ju in the hand with a pair of scissors in self-defence.]]
* JitterCam: As soon as Su-mi (and the audience) learns that [[spoiler:Su-yeon has been DeadAllAlong]], the camera starts shaking violently.
* JumpScare: Quite a few of them:
** The scene where [[spoiler:the girl under the sink]] grabs Eun-ju's wrist. The audience ''knows'' that [[NothingIsScarier something is going to happen]], but it doesn't make the scene any less tense.
** The ghost in the bedroom suddenly standing up with unnatural speed.
** The bloody sack suddenly twitching.
** The fish carcass in the fridge, complete with ScareChord.
** There's a few during the scene where Eun-ju is [[spoiler:lured to Su-yeon's room and attacked by a ghost]]. First, ''something'' quickly zips behind the curtain at the back of the room when she turns the light on. A little while later, the door suddenly slams shut and the lights go out. Then [[spoiler:the cushions in the wardrobe start moving as the ghost emerges.]]
* KickTheDog: Eun-ju's treatment of Su-yeon, [[spoiler:both real and imagined]].
* KubrickStare: Eun-ju does this a fair bit towards the end.
* LaserGuidedKarma: [[spoiler:After leaving Su-yeon to die, a ghost (whether it is of Su-yeon or the girls' mother is open to interpretation) comes after Eun-ju near the end of the film. We don't see what happens, but we do hear a scream...]]
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: Several shots last for a long time, including during the opening scene.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: As Eun-ju lifts her head after investigating under the sink, the ghost can be seen sitting on a chair behind her.
* MindScrew: And ''how''.
* MoodWhiplash: Used on a few occasions, most notably in the scene where the girls are going through their mother's old belongings. It starts out as a sweet moment where the girls are remembering happier times and Su-yeon is deciding which of the belongings she wishes to keep - and then it suddenly becomes sinister when Su-mi notices small, bloody scratches and bruises on Su-yeon's arms...
** Also, during the same scene but before Su-yeon turns up, Su-mi is happily looking through some old photographs... until she comes across one with Eun-ju in it, and ''every'' picture after that features her hovering in the background...
** The second dinner scene. It goes from Eun-ju recalling old memories and finding them ''hilarious'' ([[CringeComedy while no-one else at the table does]]), to Mi-hee suddenly having a seizure.
* MotorMouth: Eun-ju, when the girls' uncle and his wife are over for dinner.
* NightmareSequence: Su-mi has a seriously creepy one involving her mother, a clearing in the woods, and blood. Then [[FromBadToWorse it gets worse]].
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Su-mi and Eun-ju have a ''brutal'' fight towards the end of the film.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: Averted. Su-mi wakes up to find blood where Su-yeon was sleeping, indicating that the latter started her period during the night. She then goes into Eun-ju's bathroom to borrow some sanitary pads. Eun-ju then comments how interesting it is that she also got her period on the same day. A short while later, Su-mi goes to the toilet, where she discovers to her surprise that she too has started her period. [[spoiler:The reason for this becomes clear at the end of the film.]]
* NothingIsScarier: Much of the film runs on this.
* OedipusComplex: [[spoiler:Following TheReveal, the earlier scene where Eun-ju waits in bed for Moo-hyeon (who reluctantly puts his arm around her to get her to sleep) takes on a very different light.]] This is only a partial example, as [[spoiler:Su-mi genuinely believes herself to be Eun-ju at this point.]]
* OnceMoreWithClarity: [[spoiler:Following TheReveal that Su-mi has a split personality, events depicting Eun-ju from earlier are played out again, except this time showing it was Su-mi all along. Also, some scenes in which Su-yeon was present now have her completely absent.]]
* ParentalIssues: Su-mi has... issues with Moo-hyeon.
* PerpetualFrowner: Moo-hyeon. Since it is highly likely that he is suffering from depression [[spoiler:for many, many reasons]], you can hardly blame the poor guy.
* PsychologicalHorror
* TheReveal: Three, and they're all equally as unexpected and shocking as each other. The first is when it is revealed that [[spoiler:Su-yeon has actually been dead all along, having died prior to the events of the film, and her presence is most likely a figment of Su-mi's imagination]] (although it can also be interpreted that [[spoiler:her presence is a non-malevolent ghost who doesn't even realise that she's dead]], but that depends on how you view the film). The second is when it is revealed that [[spoiler:Su-mi was imagining herself to be Eun-ju, due to a severe case of multiple personality disorder, and Eun-ju was never in the house throughout the events of the film to begin with - the real Eun-ju only shows up at the end, to help return Su-mi to the mental institution]]. And third, [[spoiler: though essentially absolved by the reveal of Su-mi's psychosis, Eun-ju turns out to have knowingly allowed Su-yeon to die before marrying her father]].
** In ''The Uninvited'', [[spoiler:Rachel (the Eun-ju equivalent) ''was'' around the whole film. The reason Anna (Su-mi) intially cracked was that she witnessed her father cheating on her mother with Rachel and decided to burn the house down. A trail of gasoline and a knocked-over candle result in her mother and Alex (Su-yeon) burning alive in the second house before Anna can reach the main house. Guilt drives her insane.]]
* RuleOfSymbolism: A lot, including the statue that Eun-ju [[spoiler:tries to kill Su-mi with]] covering its eyes (possibly symbolising Su-mi's [[spoiler: refusal to see the truth]]), and the photo frame containing a picture of Su-yeon shattering [[spoiler:as she is crushed to death]].
** Later, there's the bleeding floorboards as Eun-ju wanders towards Su-yeon's room. The same scene also has all of the picture frames in the bedroom completely empty, when they contained photos earlier. WordOfGod states that it symbolises [[spoiler:Su-yeon's absence from the family.]]
* SanitySlippage: Both Su-mi ''and'' Eun-ju - [[spoiler: well, that would be the case if Su-mi wasn't already insane and if that particular version of Eun-ju didn't exist in Su-mi's mind.]]
* ScareChord
* SceneryPorn: This film goes into particularly stunning detail on the backgrounds, with very strong use of colour.
* ShrinkingViolet: Su-yeon.
* TheSpeechless: Su-mi absolutely refuses to speak in the opening scene and, later in the film, [[spoiler:when she is returned to the psychiatric hospital]], and it seems likely to be due to the trauma of everything she's been through.
* SpotOfTea: Eun-ju attempts to have one during a confrontation with Su-mi. The latter responds by sweeping everything off the table.
* StepfordSmiler: Eun-ju, ''big'' time.
* StringyHairedGhostGirl: This film contains the scariest damn one you may EVER see. [[spoiler:And, if you look closely, you can see that it appears to be the girls' mother.]] This is confirmed by WordOfGod.
** ''The Uninvited'' had a suitably freaky one as well [[spoiler: and it's confirmed to ''be'' the girls' mother.]]
* SupernaturalProofFather: Moo-hyeon never (knowingly) experiences anything supernatural.
* ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight: Particularly the first night.
* TranquilFury: Su-mi, until you push her too far.
* TwistEnding: See TheReveal.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: When the uncle's wife is having a fit [[spoiler:(or being possessed)]], she pukes on the floor, before her spasms cause her to roll her face and hair in it.
* WickedStepmother: ''Legendary.''
* WhamEpisode: There is Wham Moment upon Wham Moment from around the halfway point onwards.
* WhamLine: [[spoiler:"Su-yeon is dead!"]]
* [[WhiteShirtOfDeath White Dress Of Death]]: Just look at the [[http://media.smashingmagazine.com/cdn_smash/images/asian-movie-posters/tale_of_two_sisters.jpg film poster]].
* YourCheatingHeart: [[spoiler: It ''seems'' that Moo-hyeon had an affair with Eun-ju which possibly drove much of the chaos in the household. Whether it's actually true or just an assumption from the girls is ambiguous. ]]

[[folder:Tropes that are inherently spoilers]]

* DeadAllAlong: [[spoiler: Su-yeon.]]
* ImaginaryEnemy / ImaginaryFriend: [[spoiler: Su-mi's Eun-ju persona is the imaginary enemy. The Su-yeon seen throughout most of the film is the imaginary friend.]]
* KillTheCutie: [[spoiler: Poor Su-yeon.]]
* RealAfterAll: [[spoiler: Eun-ju is attacked by a ghost towards the end.]]
** The aftermath of the seizure scene, as well. [[spoiler:Mi-hee could see the girl under the sink.]]
* SplitPersonality: [[spoiler: The Eun-ju seen throughout most of the film is actually Su-mi. The real Eun-ju only shows up towards the end, and in flashbacks and photographs.]]
* ThroughTheEyesOfMadness
* TomatoInTheMirror / TomatoSurprise: See TheReveal and SplitPersonality.
* UnreliableNarrator - [[spoiler: Su-mi.]]