CATS Should’ve Been a Horror Film

Director: Tom Hooper
Starring: Francesca Hayward, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, and Taylor Swift
Cinematographer: Christopher Ross

Everything you heard about Cats is true. There’s terrible CGI, the dancing is creepy- it’s just plain horrifying. So, it begs the question: Why wasn’t Cats a horror film?

Well… It should’ve been. Here’s why.

Before I jump into it, I feel like I should confess something. I’ve never seen Cats the musical or any variation of a stage play. I’ve heard good things, but it just never interested me. With that being said, I can’t ever see myself wanting to see it thanks to Hooper’s musical fantasy that features a whole lot of terror and uninteresting music and choreography. 

Danny Collins, Naoimh Morgan, and Francesca Hayward in Cats (2019)
courtesy of Universal Pictures

The story follows Victoria, a young cat who has recently been abandoned by her family. She’s soon surrounded by other stray cats, who deem themselves as Jellicles, and they give her the rundown on life as a stray leading up to the annual Jellicle Ball. There, cats compete to be granted a new life- to be reborn as who they were truly meant to be. In this new life, all their hopes and dreams could become a reality. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Well Cats is nothing of the sort. It’s horrifying, to be exact. But it’s not necessarily bad filmmaking, though one could argue that the poor special effects would deem it so. But for me, that was the least of my worries, or should I say fears. In between the creepy and oddly-sexual choreography and the jaded music, I just wish Hooper and company went full-fledge horror. And not just any kind, either. I’m talking about the campy horror type, where it’s so in your face, corny and unapologetic. If it went this route, I’m sure it would be a cult classic among those who loved this feature.  

Robbie Fairchild and Francesca Hayward in Cats (2019)
courtesy of Universal Pictures

Some of the music, in particular, had a gloomy and eerie feel that would’ve been perfectly executed as horror. Even the upbeat sections were shockingly awful. Take Jennyanydots, the Gumbie Cat, as an example. Rebel Wilson truly nails her characters bit. She’s the miserable cat who loves to eat. And in her spare time, she commands a band of performing rodents. And it’s absolutely terrifying. Sequences like this paired with the actual premise of the film, and you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for a horror musical. Cats vying for the opportunity to end their miserable lives? It would’ve been perfect.

The film is disappointing, to say the least. As an avid fan of musicals, the music was terrible, most of the singing sounded flat, and the choreography left much to be desired. More importantly, everything was distracting. If the cast and crew meant for its audiences to feel like cats – easily distracted and bothered by almost everything – they’ve succeeded with me. All in all, Cats still isn’t likely the worst thing ever made. But it came damn near close.


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