Original title: Go-hyang-i: Jook-eum-eul bo-neun doo gae-eui noon
Korean horror, paranormal, mystery
Director: Byun Seung-wook
Writer: Byun Seung-wook
Main Cast: Park Min-young as So-yeon and Kim Dong-wook as Jun-seok
A young pet shop employee named So-yeon finds herself in a ‘wrong-place, wrong-time’ situation and winds up adopting a white cat named Silky, whose owner had passed away in a suspicious elevator accident. Once the cat is in her care, she begins to be haunted by ghostly little girl with a bob cut and cat eyes… who is not only following her, but killing off those who mistreat Silky -- one by one.
When I chose this film to review, I felt my opinions would be a little bit biased since I have a bit of an obsession with cats. I have three of my own and cats have been my favourite animal since I was a little girl, so to say that I am a bit of a crazy cat lady is an understatement. So before I continue, a disclaimer: I will have you know that my opinions on cats will have nothing to do with my review or rating on this film (though I may have allegedly squealed a few times at all the cute cats in this movie.) I have to let one last thing out before I begin: there is a man at the beginning of The Cat who is trying out little outfits on the cats, and it was just so cute. I could relate so much.
Anyway, moving on. This movie is a fairly formulaic Asian horror flick, where there is a creepy ghostly child with pale blueish-white skin, sunken eyes and hair in front of their face. Being someone who really enjoys Asian horror films, this never gets old for me and is still creepy as all hell every time I see it. I also enjoyed that they added their own touch to this horror movie trope by making the young girl’s eyes glow yellow and have a slitted vertical pupil like a cat’s. Since this movie focuses a lot on cats and their relation to the spectre, I thought that was a nice touch.
Early on in this movie we see a few crime scene investigators watch the surveillance footage of the woman dying in the elevator, but they don’t instantly jump to the conclusion that the woman died from a ghostly being (where to the audience, this is obviously what happened.) Instead, they hypothesize other potential ways she could have died, such as a panic attack or a heart attack. I like this, because they don’t immediately assume it is something paranormal -- which is a conclusion that is frequently jumped to when things start to get a little strange in ghostly horror flicks.
Another scene that stood out to me in particular was when So-yeon was cutting raw chicken on a cutting board. Normally I would assume that they are going to have her cut off a finger accidentally or something, but they distract you enough with other things going on throughout this scene and creative camera angles that when she does accidentally cut herself you don’t see it coming. It was shocking and gross enough to make me cringe and cover my mouth with my hands. This scene was very intelligently set up.
Throughout The Cat they did use a ton of Asian horror movie tropes – some which was very effective, such as one scene where So-yeon is walking up a spiral staircase. This scene is shot from a bird’s-eye view own, and we can see the lights from the bottom of the staircase turn on floor by floor below her. This successfully gives us the feel that our character is being chased by something unknown, and similar effects were used in horror classics like The Grudge.
Did I mention that I love cats? I don’t think I did. I really love cats, and on that note -- I should mention that those with a faint of heart might have a tough time watching this film, because you will see dead, dying and decaying cats. I assure you that no cats were harmed during the making of this film. This came as a relief to me, because at one point you see cats being euthanized at a shelter and I was so afraid that this was real. I even had my editor and partner, Jordan (A.K.A. Mr. Universe) look it up for me, because I could not watch or review a movie where actual animals are harmed. I watched Animal Holocaust – I mean… Cannibal Holocaust once, and I will not do it again.
It has come to the time where I discuss the things that I didn’t enjoy throughout the film, and although there wasn’t a lot, they are fairly glaring problems. About halfway through The Cat the movie began to drag. Nothing seemed to be happening to further the plot or keep my interest. The scenes that were supposed to be tense and scary (when we see the ghost girl acting all creepy) became so frequent and overdone that it was losing the eerie and unsettling effect that it had achieved at the beginning of the film, and became rather dull, predictable and boring. This film has too many filler scenes for my liking, and scenes that should have ended sooner were dragged out unnecessarily. Thinking back, I wasn’t extremely happy with the ending, either. They built up so much fear and tension over what was going to happen, and then nothing scary happened. Everything got resolved into a nice happy(-ish) ending, and although it’s relieving, it’s also disappointing as a horror fan. That aside, I felt like the actors did an outstanding job with what they were given and the main character herself really drew me into the film. When she was afraid, I felt afraid for her. I rate this movie a 6 out of 10, and if you enjoy by-the-numbers paranormal Asian horror films I think you will enjoy this one -- even if it is a bit of a slow purr-n – ahem… burn.