★★★ | The Cat
The Cat is a Korean horror film which tells the story of a young woman, So-Yeon, who is an animal groomer in a pet parlour. Following the death of one of her customers who dies in a lift, she cares for the abandoned cat found next to the body. But So-Yeon soon finds herself haunted by the ghostly figure of a young girl with cat like eyes and as people around her start to die in small spaces So-Yeon tries to uncover the truth about the link between the cat and the violent deaths of those around her.
The Cat was very typical of the Asian horror films which have become more popular over the last ten years or so. Films like The Ring, The Grudge, A Tale of Two Sisters and Dark Water have brought the Asian film industry to the attention of the West and this film is a good, if standard, example of the ghost story genre. It has all of the elements you would expect in such a film – a ghostly figure, a few jumps, a slow build of the tension and an uncovering of the truth behind the shadowy figure. Whilst the structure of the story was nothing ground-breaking, it held your attention and built to a satisfying enough conclusion.
Overall, the film is a slow burner, with the story gently unfolding throughout the first two thirds of the film before reaching its denouement and revealing the reason for the hauntings. Those expecting an all-out action packed gore fest will be disappointed, but for those who want a decent ghost story and something more atmospheric, there are some nice set pieces (as some of the characters meet their demise) and the ghostly figure of the little girl comes across as both menacing and creepy at times.
Overall, the performances of the cast are perfectly functional and the special effects are muted but effective. However, viewers should be aware that throughout the film there are some scenes of animal cruelty, which may make uncomfortable viewing for some people (although the film very clearly states that no animals were harmed in the making of the film). Also, the film is subtitled, which may also put off some people, although it shouldn’t. If you have never seen an Asian horror then this is a decent enough introduction.