ContactSales: Finecut, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 7 Jul 2011.
Presented by Next Entertainment World (SK). Produced by Pine House Film (SK). Executive producer: Kim U-taek. Producer: Lee Jun-dong.
Script: Jang Yun-mi. Adaptation: Byun Seung-wook, Lee Jeong-hwa. Photography: Lee In-won. Editing: Kim Hyeon. Music: Lee Jae-jin. Art direction: Kim Yu-jeong. Costumes: Lee Chung-yeon. Sound: Lee Sang-uk, Choi Tae-yeong. Special effects: Lee Chang-man. Visual effects: Jang Seong-ho (Mofac).
Cast: Park Min-yeong (So-yeon), Kim Dong-uk (Jun-seok, the young policeman), Kim Ye-ron (Hui-jin, the girl), Shin Da-eun (Bo-hui, So-hui's friend), Lee Sang-hui (animal pound doctor), Jo Seok-hyeon (Park Ju-im), Park Hyeon-yeong (Kim Sun-gyeong), Baek Su-ryeon (mad grandmother), Lee Han-wi (petshop owner), Lee Jung-ok (Lee, police chief), Seo I-suk (psychiatrist), Lee Ji-hyeon (veterinarian), Kim Min-jae (animal rescue man), Jo Han-hui (women's association head), Song Mun-su (manager), Lee Jung-gu (asylum doctor), Kim Gye-seon (asylum reception clerk), Kim Ik-tae (So-yeon's father).
The Cat 고양이: 죽음을보는 두개의눈
2011, colour, 1.85:1, 105 mins
Directed by Byun Seung-wook (변승욱 | 邊承煜)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 18 November 2011, 13:55 PM (HKT)
Watchable K-Horror curio with an interesting provenance. Genre events.
South Korea, winter, the present day. So-yeon (Park Min-yeong) works at a small pet-grooming shop called Kitty N Puppy, under the eagle eye of its camp owner (Lee Han-wi). A sufferer of claustrophobia since her childhood, she one day starts having apparitions of a ghostly young girl with cat-like eyes (Kim Ye-ron). Soon afterwards an elderly petshop client (Jo Han-hui) is killed in her apartment block's lift after collecting her cat Silky, and So-yeon personally takes care of it from the police. A psychiatrist she consults about her problem says there's nothing wrong with her, though the apparitions of the young cat-girl continue. On a trip to a rural animal pound with her friend Bo-hui (Shin Da-eun), who wants to adopt an animal, So-yeon has a bad attack of claustrophobia, and experiences more apparitions at work. Local young policeman Jun-seok (Kim Dong-uk), Bo-hui's ex-boyfriend, walks her home. Even after Bo-hui is attacked at her own flat by the ghostly child, and later dies, still no one believes So-yeon's stories of a ghost. She tries first to give the cat away to her elder brother, and then to leave it at the roadside; during the latter, she's interrupted by a mad old woman (Baek Su-ryeon) who seems to be homeless. Then the animal pound owner (Lee Sang-hui), who has been killing off many of the strays in his charge, is mysteriously incinerated in his own furnace.
Moggie-lovers should maybe steer clear of The Cat 고양이: 죽음을보는 두개의눈 (2011), in which our feline friends are either treated very badly or looked upon as nasty, vengeful critters. But the movie is worth a look not only for the way in which it's almost a paint-by-numbers example of a classic Korean horror but also for its curious provenance.
For a start, it's made by arthouse producer LEE Jun-dong 이준동's Pinehouse Film 파인하우스필름, which previously made Secret Sunshine 밀양 (2007) and Poetry 시 (2010), directed by Lee's brother, festival favourite LEE Chang-dong 이창동 | 李滄東. Even more curiously, it's the second feature by director BYUN Seung-wook 변승욱 | 邊承煜, whose beautifully observed, offbeat love story Solace 사랑할때 이야기하는 것들 (2006), starring HAN Seok-gyu 한석규 | 韓石圭 and KIM Ji-su 김지수 | 金志秀, was one of the most satisfying films of its year in terms of accomplishing what it set out to do. Byun was assistant director on Lee Chang-dong's breakout movie, Peppermint Candy 박하사탕 (1999), which explains the connection of Cat with Pine House, if not the reasons for Pine House producing a commercial horror movie. And where Solace was a difficult film to fit into an easy category (and suffered at the box office because of that), but rigidly stuck to its guns, so Cat appears to set out to make a traditional, no-frills summer horror movie and no more.
Equipped with the simplest of storylines — a young woman who works at a pet shop is haunted by a cat-like girl — the film has the feel of an old-fashioned primer on How to Make a K-Horror. Studiously avoiding flashy editing or hi-tech effects, it exerts a strange fascination from its very simplicity. As a horror movie it's relatively low on shocks and has a solution that's no great surprise; but it sustains its running time with several false trails and has a central performance, by TV actress-model PARK Min-yeong 박민영 | 朴敏英 in her big-screen debut, that's low-key, non-cute and absolutely in tune with the director's intentions.
More backgrounding could have been included of the lead character's claustrophobia, and her relationship with her father, and the film still leaves some things unexplained at the end. But the latter is par for the course with K-Horror, which has always focused on atmosphere at the expense of logic. At the end of the day, The Cat is a watchable curio and no more. Solace took Byun five years to write and get made, and the same amount of time has passed between that and The Cat. At the very least it raises curiosity over what Byun will come up with next in his fitful career.