Once again, Korea has given their viewers a beautiful film in terms of cinematography. In fact, I find most Korean films these days visually stunning. However, this has never been a problem. What many of these horror films lack are real scares. Sure, ambiguity is nice once in awhile, and the revenge factor works now and then. But how about something totally different? Now, in all fairness, I do believe that Korean horror and suspense films are still a notch above what we in America churn out on a daily basis. But, these films are becoming so formulaic, that I find it hard to really like many of the films coming out of the Korean horror industry these days. That is not to say that some viewers will not like this film.
For me the film itself lacks the suspense and horror that I really look forward too in this genre. Having written this, I will write that "Cello" is better than many films that have been released in recent years from Korea--yet that is not saying much, as so many are so similar. Yes, they are much better than most of the horror films here in the States, but one keeps hoping that they will make a breakout with some really captivating and scary films that will capture the world with the same unique quality that their dramas, and suspense films have been able to do. Moreover, the talent in both the acting, and the directing is definitely there. Yet, by continuing to churn out the same formulaic horror films at a rapid rate, they are going to suffer the same fate that American horror films now find themselves in: Stale and turgid.
"Cello" is not that bad of a film. If anything it is watchable. I would just like something a little bit more than "well it was worth a watch." Anyway, the films narrative is more like a drama, with very little to non-existent horror. The film centers around a woman named Hong Mi-ju (Hyeon-a Seong) who is a former Cello player. Due to a tragic car accident, she injures her hand---and as a result, she gives up playing the Cello, and instead becomes a music instructor. [One more thing I would like to add, the Korean horror/suspense genre has pretty much played out the classical music in their films, however, the sound of the cello is beautiful]. Further, there is something that still haunts Mi-ju in regards to her past: For it was in this car accident that her good friend and cello rival Tae-yeon Kim (Da-an Park) was also killed.
Trying to forget this terrible incident and get on with her life, she finds herself saddled with a difficult student who is upset with the grade she has been given. Given a cassette tape from an unknown source, her past begins to haunt her again. Is Mi-ju being haunted by the spirit of her dead rival? And what about the student? How does she fit in? But there is more to the narrative. With a new servant in the house who is mute, and a daughter who begins learning how to play the cello, the film veers into more of a dramatic suspense film with the various characters that are introduced into the film. The film does drag a bit, and plays out more like a drama. And if you have seen Korean horror or thriller films you will notice there is nothing really new here. Once again, this is not a bad film, but it is not a good film either. Somewhere in between. I recommend that viewers rent the film first. It may not appeal to many viewers. [Stars: 2.5]