The Cat (Go-hyang-i) Review

Movie: The Cat (Go-hyang-i)
By: Maniac E
Date: November 16, 2011

Two Eyes See Death

Every now and then a Korean movie is just what you want to watch. Korean horror takes a furry, feline turn with “The Cat”, from writer director Byun Seung Wook (“Solace”), pitting television actress Park Min Young (“City Hunter”, “Sungkyunkwan Scandal”) against a killer kitty and the usual requisite vengeful ghost. Another of the summer 2011 genre hits, the movie also stars Kim Dong Wook and Sin Da Eun and marks the debut of Kim Ye Ron, sister of top child actress Kim Rae Won. You are in for some scratching in this one.

Park Min Young plays pet shop worker So Yeon, a young animal-loving woman whose life has been blighted by the claustrophobia she has suffered since childhood. After one of her customers mysteriously dies in an elevator, she is given her cat Bidan to take care of, and soon enough is being plagued by visions of a weird little girl. She confides in her best friend Bo Hee (Shin Da Eun), who promptly ends up dead, and so with the help of police officer and former crush Joon Suk (Kim Dong Wook) sets out to investigate, convinced that the deaths are somehow linked to the cat.

the cat 1

For many viewers, cats are sinister creatures at the best of times, and director Byun certainly goes out of his way to exploit this, with the feline members of the cast spending most of the running time hissing, yowling, scratching, and generally not acting like cute and cuddly pets. The cats certainly do suffer themselves, not only being put to sleep, but even worse, are subjected to all manner of indignities, being dressed up, given makeovers and fur colorings – likely making the death scenes seem like justified revenge for some viewers. The cat related shocks are combined with more traditional Asian ghost movie motifs, with a bob-haired child ghost providing most of the scares and sudden jump frights. Although this is pretty familiar stuff, the ghost is actually one of the more creepy spectres of late, with cat eyes, top rated sneaking skills, and an uncanny strength which allows her to pull victims into closets, under beds and even into furnaces.

the cat 2

In general terms, the scares themselves are fairly obvious and telegraphed, but Byun does a good job of creating an ominous atmosphere and manages to throw in enough spooky action to keep genre fans happy. There are also a few gruesome moments and effective jolts scattered throughout, with some pretty decent death scenes as the more unlikeable cast members get bumped off in satisfying manner. These give the movie a real lift and ground its sense of threat, with a couple of neatly staged mass feline attack sequences and the ghost getting the chance to use some nasty looking face shredding claws.

the cat 3

In the early stages of the movie, when the mystery is at its highest, the cats are seen as creatures to fear. But by the end of the movie their stories come to light and fear is replaced by understanding and sorrow. I feel like the cats themselves were almost a red herring in the movie that distracted, and for some too much, from the movie’s true intentions. They served their purpose perfectly and, even though they could be simplified to being just a story hinge, their impact was justified. Questions beyond their intended function are pointless and shortsighted, narrowing the reading of the movie to one that is limited to overreaching preconceptions and ill-serving contextualization.

the cat 4

The message and ideas are woven into its mechanics with such cinematic sensibility and consideration that it's hard not walk away with some appreciation. Dismissing the movie as a failed horror is not only unfair, its completely unjustified. This is nowhere near a splatter movie instead you get a story with many layers and a splash of drama and suspense. To call this a full on horror movie is just not doing it justice its more than just horror and you need to keep that in mind before watching this one.



The Cat (Go-hyang-i)


The Cat (Go-hyang-i)


Seung-wook Byeon






Min-Young Park, Dong-wook Kim, Ye-ron Kim