The feature’s ability to blend great emotional depth, alongside developed characterization, a mesmerizing plot and a spooky atmosphere, make this a film that certainly ought to be experienced.
Unlike stereotypical Asian horror, the ghost of the young girl is not equipped with a head of hair in need of immediate trimming. Rather, what separates her from other ghosts are her unique cat eyes, and even when she is hiding in the darkness, those eyes of hers, so bright and haunting, are clearly visible, and add to the feeling of being watched. This is further implied by the camera, which is occasionally from the perspective of the girl herself. The way the ghost is portrayed, and how she can unexpectedly jump out at the audience is excellently developed, providing a good number of jump scares.
Though the Cat is not the most terrifying feature ever encountered, despite the effective ambiance, what audiences will occasionally find most shocking is the treatment cats receive when in the care of animal shelters and other such accommodations. The lacking dignity and humility provided to the cats really hits home about the cruelty that takes place behind closed doors, and one scene, when a cat is put to sleep, the look of terror upon the poor animal’s face is wretchedly heartbreaking. In this sense, The Cat is a film that requires viewing, if not for the story or character relationships, then for the brutal honesty of the environments cats are often forced to endure.
Ultimately writer-director Byun Seung-Wook does little except to showcase that he’s as capable as other directors before him who have executed the usual suspense build up, and the typical jump scares to make audiences squeal, complete with sudden loud noises, light and shadow play, and tapping upon the expertise of makeup artists who applied the feline face of death look which is inspiration for anyone wondering just how to dress up during this year’s Halloween. And to make matters worse, without the numerical advantage in getting characters bumped off, or have random bodies appear just to spook, The Cat would betray that it’s actually all of a short film only, being extrapolated just because of its repetitive scare tactics to introduce another dead body under extraordinary circumstances.
The Cat is bound to keep you on edge from the opening credits, through to the final scene, the tension and mystery surrounding the plot been pivotal to the success of the movie. The emotional depth is as equally satisfactory, and by the film’s conclusion, you will want to curl up next to your kitten and give them a great big hug.
Keeping the Horror Flame Burning.
So-yeon works as a groomer in a pet shop called Kitty N Puppy, but has claustrophobia due to childhood trauma. A woman comes to the pet shop to collect her Persian cat, Bidanyi. The next day, the woman is found dead in an elevator, but Bidanyi is unharmed. The police are unable to determine the cause of her death. So-yeon’s friend Kim Jun-seok, one of the police officers investigating the murder, gives her Bidanyi to look after.
So-yeon starts to have nightmares of a young girl with cat-like eyes and is haunted by hallucinations. Jun-seok and his fellow officers watch CCTV footage of the woman who died and it’s concluded that she died of a panic attack. So-yeon’s friend Bo-hee, who recently adopted a cat, is killed in her closet by the cat-eyed girl. That night, So-yeon cuts her finger while preparing food for Bidanyi. Bidanyi licks the blood and becomes aggressive. The next day, she takes Bidanyi to the dead woman’s husband, but he does not want him. He explains that his wife claimed to be haunted by a strange little girl. Disturbed, So-yeon leaves Bidanyi in a park. At the animal shelter, a staff member cremates a dead cat, but is pulled inside the furnace and burns to death.
Jun-seok and So-yeon go to the animal shelter, where they find dead cats and the charred remains of the staff member. They learn that some time ago, there was an infestation of stray cats in the boiler room of an apartment complex. The doors and windows were cemented shut and the cats were left to suffocate. Two weeks later, workers removed the dead cats. So-yeon remarks the similarity of the murder victims all being found dead in a small space. She is again approached by an confused old woman she had encountered before, who is looking for her granddaughter. Jun-seok discovers that the old woman reported her missing granddaughter nine months ago, but her son closed the case. So-yeon escorts the woman back to her apartment – in the same complex where the stray cats lived in the boiler room – and Jun-seok gives her a photo of the granddaughter, who looks exactly like the cat-eyed girl. So-yeon sees the old woman’s son beating his mother; he is then killed by a horde of cats.
So-yeon goes to the complex’s boiler room and is confronted by cats. So-yeon falls into a large canister. The cat-eyed girl appears and shows her how she died; she had played with the cats in the boiler room, and upon hearing of the plans to kill them, she attempted to hide them in the canister. While climbing out, she fell and was paralysed, dying with the cats after the door and windows were cemented.
Having conquered her claustrophobia, So-yeon visits her father in a mental hospital, riding in an elevator for the first time without panicking. As she leaves, she and Ju-seok find a kitten underneath their car, and she kindly beckons toward it.
Solid if unremarkable South Korean ghost effort
Park Min-young as So-yeon
Kim Ye-ron as Hee-jin
Kim Dong-wook as Jun-seok
Shin Da-eun as Bo-hee
Directed by Byun Seung-wook
Written by Jang Yun-mi
Distributed by Next Entertainment World
Release date July 7, 2011
Running time 106 minutes
Country South Korea