Directed by Bong Man-dae. Starring Ahn Ah-yung, Ahn Gyu-ryun, Jeon So-min, and Shin Se-Kyung. Not Rated.
Source: Region 1 DVD (Tartan/Genius)
Running time: 01:36:27
Country: South Korea
The story revolves around a teenage girl who gets plastic surgery on her face and proceeds to have nightmarish hallucinations. On top of that, her single mother is a plastic surgeon and is actually the one who operated on her. She's not quite as domineering as the wicked stepmother in the original Cinderella tale, but, as we learn throughout the film, she indeed has some deep-rooted maternal issues that set up a pretty disturbing plot twist.
This movie exists in a world where it's completely acceptable (and even "cool") for teenage girls to get plastic surgery. Is it a South Korean thing or was it just made up for this movie? I have no idea. Whatever the case, vanity plays a huge part in CINDERELLA. For the most part, the focus here is on the single mother. The film takes a look at her relationship with her daughter, and it's obvious throughout the film that there's a lot more to their relationship than what we see. There's initially a lot of secrecy, and when those secrets are eventually exposed, it's quite disturbing, interesting, and sad at the same time.
Overall, there's a very eerie and chilling atmosphere throughout CINDERELLA. Yeah, we do get some of the Asian horror cliches, but for the most part the subject matter itself is enough to make this a successfully creepy and unsettling horror movie. Apparently it hasn't been too well-received by a lot of people who've seen it, which is a surprise to me. I think it's a decent horror movie and fairly well made. In particular, the editing, cinematography, and eerie score are great, and it's really those three elements of the filmmaking (combined with the story's subject matter) that make CINDERELLA a huge success in my book. I don't know if this will ever come up when I think of the best Asian horror movies I've ever seen, but it's definitely in the conversation when it comes to South Korea.