Starring: Sung-Hyun-Ah and Park Da Ahn
Tartan Asia Extreme
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 13 November 2006

Mi-Ju is a young professor of music who receives an audio tape containing a particular piece of cello music, which shocks and frightens her. When she starts to receive threatening text messages and hears voices outside her home, she assumes it is the revenge of a student who confronted her when she didn't receive a pass grade. However, there are darker forces at work here. A strange housekeeper shows up at the request of Mi-Ju's husband, and her eldest daughter plays the discovered tape over and over, attempting to play it herself on the cello. A series of visions and violent incidents take place before Mi-Ju's husband finds a yearbook with the face of a girl called Tae-Yeon Kim blanked out. When confronted she reveals a past friendship torn apart by rivalry, and a death which advanced her career. They will soon learn that a supernatural evil seeks retribution against everything Mi-Ju holds dear...

The quality of supernatural horror films emerging from East Asia is surprisingly high considering the number that have been produced in the last few years. Cello, a Korean language film with subtitles, is far from being the best of these, but it is an above-average story, and a promising debut from director Lee Wook-Chul.

Ever since Ju-on: The Grudge, directors from that part of the world appear to be thinking as much about pacing and structure as they are about the plot and characters. This attention to detail, and attempt to release something a little different, can only help this sub-genre of horror adapt and survive. However, it does prepare you to take the situations in each additional film with a large pinch of salt. In other words, now you're half-expecting each plot to be non-linear or at least not what it seems to be. Rather than the normal Hollywood horror twist of the evil surviving because the film company is trying to create a money-spinning franchise, in many of these films the ending reveals a whole new subplot and sometimes stands the entire film on its head, making it something else entirely. You get the feeling of a little healthy competition between productions going on.

Cello has its own take on this. A very short sequence as the film begins is soon forgotten as the main plot takes over. It is only the reminder at the end that makes you remember Mi-Ju has suffered a serious accident and that what has gone before is not real... until it starts to happen again.

The Behind the Scenes featurette doesn't reveal much about what went into making Cello, but it does make you smile at the length of time and attention to detail given to an accident victim's theatre blood. You will feel sympathy for the little girl who says she is scared when they apply the bottled blood to her and tell her to imagine it is ice-cream (!)

Ty Power

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