The Korean horror film Cinderella (Sin de rel lah, 2006) is anything but a Cinderella story.
Teenaged Hyunsu or Hyeon-su (Shin Se-kyung) has a horribly strange relationship with her mother, plastic surgeon Dr. Yoonhee (Do Ji-won), obsessed with her daughter's beauty & perfection, & jealous of her teenage friends upon whom the doctor also operates.
Dr. Yoonhee is providing her daughter with plastic surgery to be more beautiful, & there's something moodily bizarre about the whole process.
Hyunsu keeps having hallucinations about the destruction of her face. As she descends into suicidal depression, she eventually loses her mind altogether, demanding her old face back. In a fit of madness she finally cuts up her own face.
And whether hallucination or reality, she observes a ghostly presence leaving her body, a presence that whispers to her, "I can make you pretty."
The other girls with plastic surgery are also be under this ghost's or demon's influence, something that haunts Hyunsu's mom's surgical theater.
Hyunsu may well be "rebuilt." She begins to wonder why she has never seen family photos of herself when little.
When by snooping she does find photos identified as herself, it's a hideously disfigured child, & that is a childhood she in no way recalls.
The secret of her origin is very twisted, as there are two Hyusus, one with severe burns. The disfigured child (Yoo Da-in) is hidden away in a secret room. Dr. Yoonhee has apparently raised another girl as replacement, though the mystery is much more twisted than that.
An old lady is looking for her missing granddaughter, handing out flyers. But if one of the Hyunsus is this old woman's grandchild, the question becomes, which one?
If all she'd had to cope with was the possibility she was a stolen replacement for the surgeon's daughter, that would've been sufficiently stressful & angering.
But the "other" Hyusu is still furtively in the picture, managing to influence all that happens, either ghost or seeming-ghost.
The story gets creepier & creepier when the two girls mutually disfigure one another, saying, "I'll make you pretty," as with one voice. All girls on whom "their" mother operates die with their faces similarly disfigured. When the true fate of the "real" Hyusu is revealed, it's an exceedingly bizarre tale.
Well acted, beautifully photographed, interesting score with music box & Vivaldi. The plot line is sometimes confused, but overall, a good horror film with an underpinning of social commentary. It all unfolds like an amazingly sicko yet elegant thriller, haunting in its strangeness.
By the time of the tearful climactic scene with a child pleading, "Mom, don't kill me," it's like everyone has gone stark raving nuts. And mom really is just about the weirdest most complicated movie monster of all time.
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