So-Yeon, by request from police officer Joon-Suk, takes a cat home after the owner was found dead. Shortly after, So-Yeon starts to see a mysterious young girl. She becomes frightened. Then, So-Yeon’s good friend Bo-Hee is found dead. Near Bo-Hee, there is a cat which Bo-Hee recently adopted from an animal shelter. So-Yeon now fears for her own life. So-Yeon and Joon-Suk investigate deeper into the mysterious case. There is a hidden story related to the cats.
The Korean horror film has evolved so much over the last few years that I think the Japanese are finally being given a run for their money to who will claim the throne. None have matched the sheer power of Kim Jee-woon’s “A Tale of Two Sisters”, but the genre is alive and thriving in Korea. The latest film to enter my DVD player is Byeon Seung-wook’s “The Cat”. The good thing is that the film has more bite than the title.
So-hee (Park Min-yeong, a popular television star in Korean in her feature film debut) works as a groomer at a pet shop. She loves her animals and works well. She suffers from claustrophobia, a constant hindrance in her life since she was a child. She still has to seek therapy in order to cope with it. She has taken a liking to one of her clients’ cat. It soon becomes discovered that the owner was found dead and her friend in the police force Joon-seok (Kim Dong-wook) asks her to care for the animal. Things become bizarre when So-hee begins seeing a young girl with a bob cut that keeps showing up. After her friend Bo-hee (Sin Da-eun) ends up dead as well, things begin pointing to the little girl and the mysterious cats. Who is this little girl and what is the connection to the cats? All the answers lie with the mystery of “The Cat”.
This film could have very quickly gone to the dogs (hehehe) but “The Cat” manages to draw you in to the mystery. Of course it’s a ghost story with a creepy little girl (this one is a little extra creepy) but the focus is on the mystery as well as So-hee trying to overcome her own demons. The film wasn’t really stylish in the execution, it just plays out for all to see. I enjoyed the performance of Park Min-yeong, who is sweet and fragile and her plight to solve the mystery shows her growth as a woman. Her chemistry with Kim Dong-wook is apparent from the get go and their relationship helps to carry the film.
The one thing that did disappoint me a bit was the fact that the cats really weren’t that frightening. Maybe that wasn’t the sole intention of the filmmaker but I was waiting to be creeped out by the cats. Now there are some creepy moments that involved the felines but just not themselves. With that title, I was expecting Church from “Pet Semetary” creepy, or those freaking sounds of the cat that scared the crap out of me in “Ju-on”, but it just wasn’t to be.
“The Cat” has a few memorable moments and plenty of cheap thrills. They are spaced out just right and the film never really drags for more than a moment or so. The story is intriguing enough to hold your attention and the payoff is quite good (tragic as well). A solid horror mystery from a director who only has a romantic comedy as his sole credit. Just by watching the trailer you get a good sense of what the film has to offer. Why is it that we as horror fans can sit there and watch people getting killed in the most gruesome of ways but when something happens to an animal, we turn our eyes away. We cheer for the mutilation of the humans but noooooooo, not the cute little cat. This happens a couple of times during the film and I had to laugh at my own reaction. “The Cat” is a solid mystery with plenty of cheap scares. The look of the ghost was much more frightening than the tiresome long black hair in the face look that we expect from these films. The characters’ and the actors who portrayed them had a terrific chemistry that doesn’t make “The Cat” a classic, though it is a solid entry and I give it **** out of 5.
The Cat (2011)