Clash of the Tartans!

STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $22.95
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
• Director’s Commentary
• Director & Cast Interviews
• Trailers

The Pitch

"I guess it’s like The Amityville Horror meets I Know What You Did Last Summer. Yeah, that’ll work."

The Humans

Sung Hyun-Ah, Park Da Ahn

The Nutshell

Mi-ju is a very talented cellist who for some reason has put down the instrument in exchange for an office as a music instructor at the local community college. After a run-in with a psychotic ex-student, Mi-ju starts getting threatening text messages and phone calls, presumably from the aforementioned student. From there, the entire plot twists itself into a fairly complex story of revenge, regret and guilt, complete with suicide, supposed possession and people killing their own children. Natch.

Even as a child, little Go-Go Yubari had an attitude.

The Lowdown

In actuality, Cello isn’t a very good movie. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great, and seems to be an exercise in wasted potential. The twists are legion and unnecessary, the symbolism is a little too obvious and condescending to the audience, the exposition is muddled and really hard to sort out and why this is sheltered under Tartan’s Asia Extreme umbrella is beyond me, as there really isn’t anything that extreme about it. In it’s 92 minute running time, maybe 5 minutes could be classified as extreme. Sure it’s creepy and a little uneasy, but extreme it is not. Except for in that 5 minutes, then you’re probably going to get pissed off thinking "why can’t the rest of the flick be like this?"

"Damn, Jeremy." "Yeah, I know…16 inches…it’s marvelous." "You were right, you do make one helluva sub sandwich."

That’s not to say that there aren’t any redeeming qualities to be found here. I mentioned that it’s creepy, and it is. The twists may make everything tedious, but once you’re on the final strand, watching everything play out is interesting. The performances are decent and the tangents, while really having nothing to do with the story and do everything except serve it, are sometimes nice and nasty in and of themselves. Finally, when it comes to the ending, there’s obviously one final twist, but the way it’s executed is different enough and brave enough to be extremely effective, giving the viewer an accurate depiction of the situation in which we’re leaving our cast of characters. I really can’t go into it without spoiling it, so perhaps the best thing I can say here is that even with the problems on display, I’m interested in the rest of Lee Woo-Chul’s career as a helmer. His visual style, while usually straying into the familiar trappings of Asian Horror, does show some promise and ingenuity.

In the end, this is probably worth a spot on the Netflix queue, if only for the final half hour.

The Package

The artwork on display here is superb. It’s dark, splattered in crimson and pretty chilling on it’s own. That, when teamed with the "Asia Extreme" label and the "Chilling and…bloody" quote on the back promises quite the visceral experience. Unfortunately, as stated above, that’s not what we find inside. So, in essence, the design is wasted and a subtle, atmospheric layout would have better served us here.

It’s like a combination of hot, creepy and hypnotizing.

Feature-wise, there’s some BTS stuff, some interviews and a commentary, but all of it is in Korean without subtitles. So maybe it’s informative, incredible and inspiring, but I’d never know.

5 out of 10