STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $22.95
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
Behind-the-scenes featurette

The Pitch

It’s Cinderella meets Face/Off with bloody faces replacing the glass slipper.

The Humans

Ah-yung Ahn, Gyu-rhyn Ahn, So-min Jeon, Se-Kyeong Shin and Ji-Won To

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The Nutshell

Hyoon-su is a popular girl because her mom just happens to be a cosmetic surgeon. That means her friends can get the hook-up when they decide to get their boob jobs and tummy tucks. They might want to think twice about mooching off of Hyoon-su’s family since every girl that mom operates on ends up dead a few days later.

Mom might be one of those killer plastic surgeons they feature on Dateline NBC all the time, the type who get their license to practice surgery from an Internet medical school or buy them in a back alley, then sew people back up with pounds of medical gauze still inside of them. Either that or there’s some type of crazy ghost going around and forcing young girls to cut their faces off. But that’s insane, right?

I blue myself.

Mom has some big skeletons in her closet that come to a head when the bodies start dropping. Her daughter is the only one who can put the pieces together and figure out just what the hell is going on. Maybe she can find a fairy godmother to help her sort it all out.

The Lowdown

You got your depressing story about losing a child and a marriage in my horror movie! In between the gruesome scenes of faces being sliced off and girls flensing each other with scalpels, Cinderella is actually a fairly engaging drama about motherly love. If not for all that disfigurement, it would be right at home on Lifetime Network or Oxygen. They could just rename it something like “Bloody Mother: The Hyoon-Su Story,” starring Meredith Baxter as Hyoon-Su.

Getting cosmetic surgery from Freddy Kruger sure was a bright idea.

The Cinderella motif works well within the context of the film, not just with the obvious theme about beauty and surgery but with the relationship between mothers and step-children. The mother/daughter relationship is key to the meaning of the film and transforms the film from just a simple ghost story to a moving tale of love and loss. The complex relationships explored throughout the film only make it all the more disappointing when cheap “boo” scares are inserted just to give the horror hungry audience what it expected.

The film is marketed as a traditional Asian horror film and some of those elements are certainly present to fulfill that promise. You want ghostly girls with hair covering their faces? You’ve got them. They even crawl along the ground all creepy like. You want mysterious phone messages from spirits? You’ve got them. The ghosts are even roaming outside the network coverage when they place the calls, making the messages extra scary.

It might be time to switch to the protection of extra absorbent Playtex Pads (with wings)!

If you’re looking for a straight horror film with some thrills and chills, it simply isn’t here. The majority of any scares come from some tense psychological horror with a touch of blood. On the other hand, if you ever watched Cinderella and wondered why the wicked step-mother was such a rancid bitch and if she secretly did care for her step-daughter on some level, this is a film that should hold some appeal. It may not have singing rodents and pumpkin chariots, but it has hot Korean women and disfigurement. That’s a fair trade-off.

The Package

The only extra feature is a thirty minute look behind the scenes, a majority of which is spent chronicling the pain and anguish that comes when working with child actors. Groan in frustration as the little tyke misses her cue again and again. Laugh as it becomes obvious just how much the cast and crew want to throttle the munchkin but must refrain from doing so because of those pesky “laws.” Cheer as the child finally nails her cue on the three hundredth try! It’s a real triumph of the human spirit.

You laugh now, but grafting faces to breasts will be the hot new fashion this fall.

The rest of the featurette is composed of interviews with the cast and crew. Director Man-dae Bong goes into detail on the parallels between his film and the old Cinderella fable while the actresses mainly stick to talking about the make-up used for the bloody special effects and just how scary the film was to make.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10