ATTACK OF THE CAT PEOPLE Is a Paws-itively Hair Raising Fun Film, I’m Not Kitten!
November 7, 2021
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Attack of the Cat People is a short foreign film from Australia. It’s about how a meteorite strikes Earth so a group of scientists must explore the area. When they get to their destination they learn the horror of the effects of what happened there because of it. Here’s the kicker, it’s an homage to sci/fi B movies from the 40s/50s. From the start, it’s clear the intent is to have a scary fun adventure while showing a love of early cinema.
Sarah Stephenson wrote and directed. Everything from the way it’s filmed, creature design, the characters, and the balance between heart and off the wall outlandishness calls back to those decades. It was even shot in black and white to help with that 40s/50s esthetic. While it doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s not an outright comedy or parody either. Once the terror of the truth is discovered, the group must escape with their lives. Most of the action takes place off-screen, which might have been due to budgetary constraints, but it’s fine because that too plays into how older filmmakers used camera tricks to treat viewers with new interesting visuals.
Sometimes less is more, especially in the world of horror. This is especially true with a run time of 45 minutes, but she makes every second count by blending brief yet informative exposition with plenty of traditional horror elements. For example, people talk about personal and professional matters just long enough to get the point across. Not long after someone gets separated from the group and attacked from the first-person perspective of an off-screen monster. Vigorous pacing allows for caring about the characters in a short amount of time before being placed in jeopardy.
The CAsT consists of Jessica Ham as Diana Lawrence and Peter Irish as Captain John Baker. Their love story is the heart of the film. Earlier on it was established their estranged ex-lovers. Love lost long ago gets rekindled when they’re reunited because of the mission. John Gorman plays Doctor Elliot and Wayne Bassett plays Doctor Fraser, the experts of their respective fields. Their job is to run the research aspect of the team. Lastly, there’s Emma Critchell as Janet and Brad Phillips as Edwin. They’re also sent to assist along the way. The acting isn’t so terrible it took me out of the picture, especially when I came to the realization it could be purposefully bad. Even the costumes for the titular Cat People have that cheesy quality. It’s no wonder they also use the classic bait and switch method by not showing the monsters right away. It becomes evident over time the cast is having fun hamming it up when it’s required at scary moments.
Overall, I was captivated by the premise of Attack of the Cat People from the very beginning. It’s a short and sweet nostalgic, hilarious misadventure with a timeless quality that’s hard to obtain. The exemplary writing and directing make this an enormously entertaining short film with a high rewatchability factor. I highly recommend this for all ages since there’s no gore or sex in this innocent innovative film from the land down under. The acting all around isn’t the greatest but I partially felt that was an intentional choice. And remember, when the Cat People’s Attack Comes Straight Out of the Unknown I’m sure you’ll be feline purrrfectly fine.