Monday, October 10, 2016

Stick with It - Review of Cat People

Love love love the style of these older posters--horror art at its best
It's that time of year again, when actual work goes undone in favor of my life's work--watching all the horror films my husband and I have amasssed. The grab-box for this Halloween season was geared towards films acknowledged as great that we have not yet seen, with a heavy leaning on vintage film. The first draw was Cat People (1942),

Short by today's standards, the first half of the setup for this film was quite slow. The premise was laid out in a very sweet and plodding way, with only the subtlest of hints as to the dual human/cat nature of Irena, the Serbian immigrant who marries the American Oliver Reed--oh Reed, finding your way into films before your time--it tickled me.

To the film's great credit, we're not sure of the caged jaguar, the object of Irena's obsession. You are on edge as to if or when she's going to release this beast, even when nothing else is happening in the scene--so kudos to the makers for keeping us in suspense.

The slow start of the film and the hints of Serbian witchcraft and cat cults pay off at the end, where the tension stacks up incredibly after Irena's unconsummated marriage. It was here that I knew without a doubt that I was watching a horror film, and a fantastic one by the conventions of its day. The lighting, sound effects, and use of the live jaguar are edgy, and keep you wondering just how much you will be allowed to see as Oliver's female co-worker Alice is stalked by a jealous Irena. The tension of one scene in particular is broken by a screeching noise from a bus-- is done very effectively--the oldest cheap scare I've seen, and one of the greatest, because it came entirely unbidden. The transitions here are not direct by any measure, but by god, they are ever the more thrilling for it. I shan't spoil the beauty of it, but I urge you--go and watch for yourself, and you many come to the conclusion I did--They rarely make them like this anymore, making Cat People and its coterie all the more precious.

K Rating: 9/10

No comments:

Post a Comment