Monday, February 11, 2013

Movie Review: Cinderella (2006)

 Alternate Title: 신데렐라
Starring: Do Ji-Won, Shin Se-Kyung, Ahn Gyu-Ryun, You Da-In, Jeon So-Min
Directed by: Bong Man-Dae
Genre: Horror
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Rating: Not Rated
Run time: 97 minutes
Synopsis: Seeking the much-desired quality of ul-jjang (the perfect face), 17-year old Hyunsu's friends are envious that she has a plastic surgeon for a mother. On their summer vacation together, she watches as her friends get plastic sugery and then one by one begin to mysteriously die. Hyunsu's mother holds the key to dark secrets that have been tucked away until now.

Cinderella is, on the surface, a horror film about women who die after having plastic surgery. Beneath this first impression, the movie is about the lengths that a mother would go to in order to protect and care for her child. Yoon-hee is a very overprotective mother. She's a successful plastic surgeon who operates her business out of the lower floor of her home.  Her daughter, Hyunsu, isn't allowed to go do the things that her friends are. She can't go clubbing with them or skip her classes even though it's summer vacation. Yoon-hee doesn't want to risk that anything could happen to her daughter. This overprotective nature extends even down to Hyunsu's beauty care routine. Often, her mother will even bathe her or apply spa treatments to her face.

Over the course of summer vacation, Hyunsu's friends begin to come to her mother for plastic surgery. These girls are by no means ugly in terms of physical beauty. At the most, they would be average in Korean societal standards. The only one of her friends not to go under the knife is the tomboyish Seong-Eun. It's Seong-Eun that Hyunsu is closest too and often confides in. The other girls seem to hate Seong-Eun, but Hyunsu ignores their feelings toward the tomboy. It's unclear whether the other girls have shunned Seong-Eun because she's uninterested in the typical Korean obsession with beauty or because of Hyunsu's closeness with her.

As the girls have their surgeries, they begin to see and hear strange things under the influence of the anaesthetic. These strange things happen even after their surgeries are over. 'I'll make you pretty.' It's the common theme through out as the ghostly figure of a girl is seen. People begin to die after having the overwhelming desire to injure their recently altered faces. What is Yoon-hee's connection to these deaths other than having operated on the teenagers?

Hyunsu has never been allowed down in the basement of her home. It's a place that her mother has never wanted her to go. What's hidden in there? Exploring the basement, she finds a photograph of a severely burned child that has been labeled 'Hyunsu before surgery.' Was this her? Will visiting her father, whom her mother divorced years earlier, give Hyunsu any insight into what's going on?

At this point in the film, we're beginning to realize that all is not what it seems. The most important themes are the obsession with beauty and a mother's love. How many secrets are hidden from Hyunsu? How will these secrets effect her as things begin unravelling? Again, this wasn't a film that I found frightening. However, it did provoke some feelings on a different level. I found myself feeling sympathy for Hyunsu, despite how spoiled she was. However, it was the ghost that made me feel the most sorrow. I won't go into detail as to why because I'd rather not give any further spoilers. Was the price for beauty worth the pain that it causes?

Rating: 3/5

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