Directed by: Tom Hooper
Starring: Francesca Hayward and Taylor Swift
I have personally witnessed the chasms of eternal darkness. I have dipped my feet into colossal pools of unending madness. My own eyes are stained with what once could only be described as some half-glimpsed myth; a terror that should have perpetually imprisoned itself as a permanent fable of the future. This ghastly creature I am so carefully describing – as to not potentially disturb it, causing me any further harm – is 2019’s film adaptation of ‘Cats.’
What we are subjected to, immediately and relentlessly, is a musical world of such strange proportion and unbelievably hellish terror that can only be compared to the seediest areas of Tim Burton’s Gotham alleys, and Roger Rabbit Toontown hopelessness. It’s a wondrous hellscape of unnameable horror, and is filled with anthropomorphic furries decorated flagrantly and depressingly in an unfortunate CGI veneer just asking for the chair. And they sing. Oh, do they sing. And they do not stop singing.
I know what you’re thinking: this is a musical, isn’t it? Yes, it’s a musical. But this is a musical drenched morbidly in coats of a sticky and unfortunate series of mumbles and meandering murmurings. Spectral singing horrors dressed as wannabe high school thespians haunting hallways would be a less disturbing sight to behold. But this unrelenting group of yowling felines does not give you a chance to gather yourself in its diabolical hubris. Not for a moment.
While the music viciously pummels the audience into an attempted braindeath, the horrifying bodies of these “cats” maniacally gyrate and sway like a group of strippers attached crudely to an out of control state fair Tilt-a-Whirl. Taylor Swift’s character – and her abnormally human chest – was the first thing my girlfriend pointed out upon our seemingly decades-long release from the theater. Idris Elba spends most of the film dressed in some sort of trench coat before madly dropping it toward the conclusion, revealing a once-veiled contortion of muscle and fur that rivals any notable body horror scene in the last decade.
I don’t know what the flying fuck this movie was about. It’s a coke-fueled nightmare from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fixation on T.S. Eliot’s fixation on housecats, and really, I kind of gave up researching right there. Actually, I had to Google whatever in the living hell a “jellicle” cat is, because that phrase is repeated more often throughout the film than any other. It’s infuriating how often this word is said without any explanation whatsoever, and to keep you from watching this historical misstep in cinema, I’m not going to explain what it is to you either.
The movie is a series of autobiographical introductions sung madly by each of the characters. I know this is simply how Broadway operates, but the cinematic counterpart just does not translate. This celluloid nightmare is relatively short in today’s Hollywood landscape. Somehow though, the film feels like a mucky, eternal task by the time the credits scroll. Someone clapped upon their merciful appearance, but I am holding out hope that this was some sort of sarcastic lambasting, or even celebratory relief.
This movie is now a thing that exists. It’s an unfortunate anomaly gliding terribly over unexplored swaths of the ocean, proudly sprinkling its dead skin upon us like flakes of expired fish food. I will not stoop to the shadowy depths of feline puns that many movie reviewers have (admittedly leading me to see this festering wound of a film), but I will say that this will be remembered for decades – a cult classic not deserving of the title. See this with caution. We do not deserve to be treated like this, but if masochism is your bag, have I got the movie for you.