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The Cat ("Goyangyi: Jookeumeul Boneun Doo Gaeui Noon")

Canadian Premiere
  • South Korea
  • 2011
  • 106 mins
  • HD
  • Korean
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Gérardmer International Fantasy Film Festival 2012

So-yeun (model and TV star Park Min-young) adores cats. So much so that she works at a pet-grooming salon, primping and pampering her four-legged friends with love. One day, she adopts a beautiful Persian feline named Silky after its owner dies under mysterious circumstances. From the moment she brings Silky home, So-yeun finds herself visited by a deathly child that appears to have moved in along with the cat. People begin to die. Everyday life distorts horrifically. Determined to understand what is happening around her, So-yeu embarks on a frightening journey that will take her from morgues to pet incinerators, from crime scenes to places of enormous anguish. Her love of animals will not be shaken, but her understanding of them will change in very big ways.

Disturbing. Adorable. Terrifying. Heartbreaking. THE CAT is all of these things. Gorgeously shot and gloriously creepy, it was a Korean box-office champion in 2011, and with good reason. It’s one of the most effective and atmospheric horror films to emerge from South Korea in recent years. Playing in part on folkloric beliefs that cats possess a sensitivity allowing them to see spirits, the film is peppered with hair-raising J-by-way-of-K-horror scare sequences, a number of which will startle just about any audience, but where it really comes to life — and what makes us love it so strongly — is the way in which it addresses its themes through our relationships with animals. Using pets as the prism for a ghostly discourse on abandonment and neglect imbues THE CAT with heartfelt emotional resonance that cuts deeper than the litter of its contemporaries. You should know that every cat you will see in this film is real. You should also know that while no harm came to any of them, there are faked moments of animal trauma that are deeply upsetting. An unusual and frightening genre film for pet lovers, by pet lovers — surprising narrative threads about irresponsible pet ownership, the horrors of animal shelters and the wrongheadedness of vanity-driven animal grooming abound — THE CAT transcends the familiar and emerges as something truly special in the annals of Asian horror cinema.

— Mitch Davis