A 2003 Korean horror film has joined the ranks of other Korean movies that have been, or are going to be, issued as American remakes. The Uninvited, to be released in the United States on Jan. 30, 2009, is a remake of Janghwa, Hongryeon (the title translates as “Rose and Lotus” but the film was known as A Tale of Two Sisters in its international release).
Here’s a clip from the original Korean version:
Earlier Korean films to be remade in the United States include The Lake House (a 2006 remake of Il Mare), My Sassy Girl in 2008, remade from the 2000 Korean smash hit of the same name. Other Korean films to which rights have been bought for Hollywood-ization include My Wife is a Gangster, Oldboy and JSA. In the case of A Tale of Two Sisters, DreamWorks are reported to have paid US$1 million for the remake rights.
All this is a significant recognition of Korean film as a rising force in global cultural content creation. It comes only a decade after many in Korea feared that the end of the screen quota system (which guaranteed that domestic movies got a minimum number of screening days in cinemas each year) announced the death knell for the local film industry. Korean cinema is back, and it is back with a vengeance.
A Tale of Two Sisters was, upon its release in 2003, the most successful Korean-made horror movie yet made. The plot is, in fact, an old one, stemming from a folktale of the Joseon Dynasty which was also named “Rose and Lotus,” after the names of the two main characters. It had earlier been adapted to film in Korea in 1956, 1962 and 1972. The tale is a complex one, involving two teenage sisters, and their father who has remarried. The girls suspect their stepmother is up to no good, and when horrible things start to happen, their suspicions seem to be confirmed.
BBC’s Collective website describes the movie thus: “Two girls return from hospital to an oppressive country house presided over by a wicked stepmother. It’s a Gothic fairy tale set-up, with a malignant specter coming out at night to terrorize the teens. But the scares are all about the atmosphere — gloomy woods, dark bedroom corners, even the wallpaper prickles. Technically brilliant, it’s hellishly frightening too.”
Kim Ji-woon as wrote and directed the original, and it starred popular Moon Geun-young and Im Soo-jung. The film attracted a surprise amount of overseas attention: Internet movie database imdb.com links to 250 external reviews of the film, and 154 user comments, as well as 9,376 votes, giving it a ranking of 7.5 out of 10. A Tale of Two Sisters was nominated for several awards at various international film festivals. Notably, Im Soo-jung won the Best New Actress Award at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2003, and Kim Ji-woon received the festival trophy for best film at Screamfest, an annual horror film festival held in Los Angeles.
The remake has been directed by up-and-coming English brother Charles and Thomas Guard, and produced by the same people who made the American remake of Japanese horror classic The Ring. A trailer and story information are available here: http://www.uninvitedmovie.com
By Jacco Zwetsloot
Korea.net Staff Editor