Why do I rate The Cat so highly? In no way is this the scariest film I have ever watched, nor is it the greatest. But the acting, coupled with the feature's ability to blend great emotional depth, alongside developed characterization, a mesmerizing plot and a spooky atmosphere, make this a film that certainly ought to be experienced.
Slightly similar to the Grudge and Dark Water, the title of the film should have been pluralized, because there sure are a lot of puddy cats that occupy the feature. So-yeon (Min-Young Park) works at Kitty N Puppy, a pet store that not only sells animals, but is dedicated to the grooming and cleaning of our four legged friends.
Suffering the affects of claustrophobia after experiencing a childhood trauma, So-yeon goes out of her way to ensure her life is free of the obstacles that heighten her condition. The fear she often feels is well articulated on screen, and is further accentuated through the terror that begins to haunt her so.
After Silky, a cat So-yeon recently pampered inexplicably dies, the cat finds herself temporarily without a home. Her friend, Jun-seok (Dong-wook Kim), a police officer investigating the peculiar death, asks her to take Silky in for the time being. Immediately after So-yeon agrees, she finds herself plagued by nightmares, and whilst awake sees images of a little girl.
Unlike stereotypical Asian horror, the ghost of the young girl is not equipped with a head of hair in need of immediate trimming. Rather, what separates her from other ghosts are her unique cat eyes, and even when she is hiding in the darkness, those eyes of hers, so bright and haunting, are clearly visible, and add to the feeling of being watched. This is further implied by the camera, which is occasionally from the perspective of the girl herself. The way the ghost is portrayed, and how she can unexpectedly jump out at the audience is excellently developed, providing a good number of jump scares.
When So-yeon's friend Bo-hee (Da-eun Sin), alongside other people who encounter cats they bring into their lives, begin to witness the ghost as well, it becomes clear that she is no illusion. When people's lives begin to be put in jeopardy, So-yeon discovers she is going to have to combat her own fears if it means uncovering the truth behind the ghost, and the connection with the cats.
Unlike other horror films, where deaths are often the same, though there is more than one occasion when a body is contorted in terrifying fear, other times the deaths are quite surprising, with some combined originality. Though it becomes predictable to know when a character will die, it is how, that will always keep your interest.
Though the Cat is not the most terrifying feature ever encountered, despite the effective ambiance, what audiences will occasionally find most shocking is the treatment cats receive when in the care of animal shelters and other such accommodations. The lacking dignity and humility provided to the cats really hits home about the cruelty that takes place behind closed doors, and one scene, when a cat is put to sleep, the look of terror upon the poor animal's face is wretchedly heartbreaking. In this sense, The Cat is a film that requires viewing, if not for the story or character relationships, then for the brutal honesty of the environments cats are often forced to endure.
The Cat is bound to keep you on edge from the opening credits, through to the final scene, the tension and mystery surrounding the plot been pivotal to the success of the movie. The emotional depth is as equally satisfactory, and by the film's conclusion, you will want to curl up next to your kitten and give them a great big hug.