Monday, December 26, 2005

Day 87: Cat People

This was my first viewing of a Val Lewton project. I received the Val Lewton Horror Collection as a gift, and Cat People was a nice drink to follow the awful Rumor Has It.... Fun, kinda sexy, and genuinely creepy (the creepy/sexy aspects are surprising to me, given the age of the film and, most importantly, how jaded I am), Cat People is about a woman who fears that if she kisses a man, she will turn into a Cat Person and destroy them. This becomes a problem when she marries a well-meaning but dopey man. The film is like a werewolf tale with an interesting wrinkle of overt sexuality rather than subtextual, and notable that the "monster" is never seen.

Indeed, all the pyrotechnics and horrific monster images are gone from this film, instead it boils down the horrific aspects of its premise to the primal social aspects and exploits these to good effect; the film is primarily made up of scenes in which people talk to one another. There are absolutely fantastic suspense sequences, the standouts being a woman walking down the street, being pursued by a Cat Person and the same woman in a swimming pool in a dark room, as a large cat-thing stalks outside. The "monster," when it's seen, is clouded or shadowy, and, as a result, the creepiness quotient goes up. The solid writing doesn't hurt as all of the monsterishness could almost be seen as resultant from the characters' incompatible psyches.

I'm too tired to dig into the depths of this film. Let it be known that I enjoyed Cat People tremendously. Also let it be known that five more days of a movie a day make me happy.

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