Sunday, 1 March 2015


For the record, Korean director Seung-Wook Byeon is to blame for any turmoil in my house last night. Not between the girlfriend and I you understand, her love of Asian cinema begins and ends with Battle Royale. No, the animosity resulted from my decision to watch the latest in a long line of Korean ghost stories in the presence of my cat. A film that's called The Cat and has in it, amongst other things, a whole host of furry little critters wailing at the TV screen. 

Heaven knows what Fudge was thinking as she settled down on the sofa for her early evening snooze. Either the house was being invaded by a clowder of cats or her pet human was watching one of his stupid films again. 

So-yeon (Park Min-young) is an animal groomer who works in a pet shop. One day, after it's owner dies suddenly, she gets stuck with a Persian cat named Silky. From then on, So-yeon is haunted by a bobbed hair girl with green cat-like eyes who turns her life upside down. The presence of the girl, and the sound of Silky's cries, start to close in on So-yeon's life as a series of mysterious deaths occur around her. Fudge, meanwhile, could be found in the hallway packing her shit together.

The Cat is a familiar - albeit well made - Asian ghost story that just about gets away with a lack of genuine creativity. Seung-Wook Byeon (Solace) has crafted an effective thriller that makes full use of token scares, jump cuts and creepy special effects. 

The ghost girl provides a haunting presence throughout, as do the cats, who come into their own as the final act looms. There are enough red herrings to keep the story from straying, even if reluctant heroine So-yeon spends too much time in denial of the facts. She is appearing in an Asian ghost story after all, of course there's a tragic tale to be told.

So-yeon's naivety pales in comparison to the officers on her tail. At no point do they suspect her of committing the murders, despite being present at all of the crime scenes and building up a large collection of homeless cats in the process. So-yeon's mental illness isn't explored at any great length either, but that's not the biggest crime the movie commits. 

The cats of the title are subjected to all manner of nastiness, including lethal injection, violent beatings and worse still, the indignity of being dressed in baby clothes. No cats were harmed in the making of this movie, the filmmakers are quick to testify, but the same can't be said for the human population.

A solid genre entry then, not without fault but expertly crafted all the same. Fudge, on the other hand, maintains that The Cat is an unrealistic portrayal of the feline community. Either that or she wants me to feed her. It's hard to tell sometimes.

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