You know, I really enjoy Asian cinema. I may not always understand the films, or give each title the attention it deserves, but I have always enjoyed the energy they contain and just how different and original they come across compared to any domestic entries. That said, the horror films are starting to bore me just a little bit. It seems that rather than expanding on their strong base of originality they are starting to repeat themselves. Cello is a good example of an interesting idea that ultimately falters from a similarity to the films that have come before it.
The stories seem to be getting more and more convoluted. They stretch everything out until the final frames where everything is tied together, or at least the attempt is made, in the form of a sloppy bow. If you have seen any Japanese horror films, from which this Korean effort seems to take its cues, then you have probably seen much of what Cello has to offer. Most notably among what is becoming a J-horror cliche, there is the ghostly girl with the long black hair that is ready to give you a scare.
The story revolves around Mi-ju (Hyeon-a Seung), a cellist of great skill who has chosen to take care of her husband and two children while teaching part time. The decision was a seemingly hard one for her, spurred by the death of her friend and primary competitor in school. You see, there was this car accident where she was behind the wheel which caused that tragic death of her friend. She blames herself, and not using her skills is her way of punishing herself.
As the story progresses, strange things begin to happen to Mi-ju and her family. They are haunted by apparitions, the occupants begin to act strange, and Mi-ju becomes convinced that it is her friend come back to haunt her. Mi-ju becomes increasingly distressed by the goings on. Her live-in sister has some sort of breakdown, her autistic daughter starts acting a little more cruel, and they have a mute cleaning lady who seems to appear out of thin air. Still, it is less horrrific than it is just strange.
Cello drives around a lot, the plot meanders as often as Mi-ju finds herself behind the wheel of a car. There is a severe lack of focus on the story and I was never quite sure what many of the connections were supposed to be. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't need to have my movies wrapped up in neat little boxes, or have the points spoon fed to me, but I found myself not having the energy to grab onto this one. Sure, there were a couple of interesting moments, like the sister's breakdown and the confrontation with the former student, but otherwise I was rather bored.