(Original Title: Cello hongmijoo ilga
by Woo-cheol Lee
is a Korean horror movie about a former award-winning cello player who
has turned her back on her instrument of choice and taken up a teaching
position instead. Hyeon-a Seong stars as Mi-ju Hong, whose decision to
lay down her bow forever seems to have been influenced by the dark
secret she spends much of the movie trying to hide.
Seong is a capable actress and quite easy on the eye, but Mi-ju is not
an easy character to like so many viewers may to remain indifferent to
her problems and fail to become drawn into the movie. She comes across
as a little cold and uncaring and early conversations between Mi-ju and
her husband, Jun-ki, indicate she feels she has not always been a good
mother to their two children, Yoon-jin and Yoon-hi.
Hongs live in a large house, protected by a high walls and an iron
gate, and everything about them suggests they are quite a wealthy
family, but money isn't everything. Emotion seems to be in short supply
in the Hong household and their eldest daughter, Yoon-jin, is a mute
and seems to have mental problems of some kind. The exact nature of her
disability is never explained. Their youngest daughter Yoon-hi, who
looks to be about five-years-old, is much livelier than her sister and
is easily one of the most likeable characters in the movie.
Hongs share their home with Jun-ki's sister, Kyung-ran, played by Jin
Woo. Kyung-ran is also one of the more likeable characters in the movie
and she appears to show more emotion towards her nieces than their
parents do. The scenes where Kyung-ran goes into a mental-meltdown
after being dumped by her fiancÚ are particularly memorable and are
arguably some of the best in the movie.
problems appear to begin after a confrontation with one of her
students, who feels Mi-ju graded her unfairly in a music
After the confrontation Mi-Ju finds a screwdriver sticking out of the
side of the tyre of her BMW, and soon begins receiving strange phone
calls asking her, "Are you Happy? You should be." An escalating string
of events follow that initially seem to be part of a persecution
campaign conducted by Mi-ju's disgruntled student. Later it becomes
clear that many of the problems in the Hong household began when Mi-ju
bought Yoon-jin a cello. Yoon-jin is never going to win any awards for
her playing—it' so bad it's frightening—but she seems almost obsessed
with her new toy.
her daughter is busy committing her various monstrosities against
music, Mi-Ju continues to have problems at work, gets further strange
phone calls, and shows an unusual amount of animosity towards a
mysterious tape that turned up inside her locker at work. The tape
contains a recording of her former classmate, Tae-yeon Kim, playing the
cello and it does not take too much imagination to realise that Mi-ju's
present problems may be connected with her dead friend.
A few of the scenes in Cello
are pretty nasty and blood is spilled in a convincing way, but such
scenes are few and far between so the faint of heart will not be
required to turn their heads away too often. Some viewers may, however,
be distressed by the fate of little Yoon-hi. Her death is one of the
most tragic scenes in the movie and Mi-ju's reaction to the loss of her
daughter is so unlikely it borders on the ridiculous.
is an almost painfully slow-moving movie. There are a few chills along
the way, but thrills are in short supply and it seems likely that many
viewers may only resist the urge to pick up their remotes and eject the
disc because they are curious about what the heck is supposed to be
going on. Fortunately it all becomes clear at the end, but Cello is
lacklustre movie that does not compare well with many better Korean
horror movies, such as A Tale of Two sisters.
Rating: 2 out of 5.
Runtime: 94 mins
Certificate: 15 (UK)