Cello (2005)
Not Rated Dir: Lee Woo-Chui | Tartan Asia Extreme | 92 min.

Review By: Fusion3600 | January 28th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

Mi-Ju was once known as a skilled cellist, one of the best you’d ever find. She wasn’t just good in fact, more like brilliant, but those days have ended. She was in a horrific car accident and her best friend was killed, while Mi-Ju suffered injuries to her wrist. While surviving should have been a welcome turn of events, Mi-Ju found herself burdened by incredible guilt. After all, her best friend had died and while injured, she lived on and that haunted her to no end. While no one was sure if the reason was physical or emotional, Mi-Ju gave up her career as a musician and now, wants to become a full time teacher. She has a position now, but not on the level she desires, so she pushes on for the full time position. She is suddenly plagued by intense, harrowing flashbacks to her car accident, driving her to the brink of her limits. As if that isn’t enough, a series of accidents begin to happen and her family is always involved. Of course, she could just be losing her mind and signs would point to that, but there is a chance a supernatural presence is on the warpath. Has Mi-Ju’s mind finally broken under the pressure of all that guilt, or is a darker force behind this all?

As I have said time and again, I love Tartan’s Asia Extreme line and as such, I looked forward to this latest installment, a South Korean chiller titled Cello. The premise here is more than solid, but in the end, the movie falls short of that potential. As horror rises in popularity in Asia, more and more genre films are released and in the rush, sometimes it seems like some films aren’t given the attention they need. Cello seems to be such a case, as with additional time and effort, this could have been a terrific thriller, but instead, the filmmakers fall back on the usual cliches. The actual horror usually comes not from the story or overall atmosphere, but sharp music cues and loud noises, or sudden jumps, also known as cheap scares. Now we all know horror movies need these elements, but they don’t have to be the lone sources of the horror tension. In addition, the plot seems to be quite disjointed, so it can be hard to know what is going on. Perhaps if the filmmakers filled in some gaps here and there, the story would be more cohesive and by turn, more effective. I hoped Cello would be a fun chiller, but I am left to recommend only a rental and even then, only to genre addicts.

Video: How does it look?

Cello is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’ve been spoiled by Tartan’s releases, so when this treatment was less than impressive, I was disappointed. The first thing I noticed was a lot of softness, so the visuals don’t have much depth or refinement. The softness is consistent too, so the problem isn’t isolated to just a few scenes. The movie has dark visuals to boot, which makes the situation worse, since the black levels are softened and muddy images result. The overall transfer is by no means terrible, but Tartan has done such great work on other discs, this one pales in comparison.

Audio: How does it sound?

A movie doesn’t need explosions, shootouts, or car chases to provide a dynamic audio experience, a fact proven by this release. The included Dolby Digital and DTS options take the material’s eerie, tense presence and creates a terrific soundtrack. As if the suspense wasn’t intense enough, the audio here cranks up the tension a few more notches. A poor soundtrack could have brought down the experience, but both options here sound excellent and make full use of the film’s audio potential. The music is superb in this film and as expected, is given much life in these treatments. No dialogue issues either, as the vocals have a clean and crisp sound, even if you have no idea what is being said. This disc also includes subtitles in English and Spanish, just in case you’re a bit rusty with your Korean.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The director’s commentary track is informative, but very technical in scope. As such, those who love humor and anecdotes will be let down. But if you’re more keen on the nuts and bolts of production, then this track is one you’ll want to check out. This disc also includes a television spot, a behind the scenes featurette, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Features
  • (1.85:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Audio: Dolby Digital
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
Cello

2.5
Video
Audio
Extras