The Existential Horror of Cats
What one must first understand before one watches Cats is that the
cats of Cats (12019) are not, in fact, cats. They are something else entirely: strange galeänthropic sleep paralysis demons that should have never left the concept phase of design. Their humanoid faces float just off their heads as collars squirm and slither up and down their rancid procedurally generated necks, the computer in which their tortured souls reside struggling to keep up with the sheer weight of the task at hand.
There is a
cat in Cats (12019, dir. Tom Hooper) played by Idris Elba. It looks even less like a cat than the rest of its felinoidal comrades; at the start of the film, it wears a fur coat (this just leads to more questions — where did it source this fur?), but halfway through it abandons all clothing, exposing its horrifying thin flesh-toned fur and its completely smooth groin.
But you knew all that already, and so did i; even so, on a whim one night, i decided to watch Cats (12019, Universal Studios) with some friends on Discord. I desperately shopped around servers i was on in the hopes of finding someone, anyone, who wished to share in this collective nightmare; it took twenty minutes of coërcing to finally source a group of friends willing to undertake the task. I will be intercutting their commentary throughout my description of the film.
The film opens with a human woman tossing a cat out of a bag. We do not see her face. She is the last time we will see anything resembling reälity; once she leaves, the cat is out of the bag, and we are left with only wonky synthesisers and the CGI flesh dæmons which we will be facing for an hour and forty minutes more.
cats sing a song about how they are allegedly "Jellicle Cats", and how they all desperately want to die and be reborn — presumably they do not wish to be a fur-covered homunculus in their next life. This is the closest thing there is to a plot in the film, which consists primarily of these creatures singing songs about each other and praying that they will die. The white one (the one who was tossed out of the bag earlier) is named Victoria. Each
cat has three names, apparently. This is never again brought up.
The film continues. Rebel Wilson's ginger golem thing appears to lick its cat vagina. She sheds her skin and eats an cockroach with a child's face. None of the other creatures are appalled by this: this is normal in their world. James Corden's
cat sings a song about its weight. Ms. Wilson doesn't want to be in this film anymore, so midway through the song the Idris Elba-shaped galeänthrope snaps her character out of existence.
cats now move to a theatre, because the filmmakers didn't want to design any more setpieces. Things happen. I forget in what order they happen. I'm not sure it matters.
There is a
cat named Skimbleshanks which likes trains and whose whiskers inexplicably form a moustache. It reminds me of Tom Hanks as the conductor in The Polar Express, only instead of a creepy CGI human, it's a creepy CGI fursona designed by someone who has never interacted with a furry in their life. At the end of its musical number, it explodes, even though it has never been shown to be able to do this before.
Taylor Swift shows up, sings a song about Idris Elba's dæmon being evil, drugs the entire audience, and then leaves. They try to make her
cat sexy, for some reason. (This film has a tendency to do that, even though noöne in their right mind would ever attribute sex appeal to its character designs.)
There is a magical
cat called Mr. Mistoffelees. Its song is the catchiest in the film; it has been stuck in my head ever since i watched Cats (12019, dir. Tom Hooper, feat. Francesca Hayward). I wish it wasn't, because even though it is a perfectly fine song, it will always be associated with the sleep paralysis dæmons.
Finally, Jennifer Hudson's creature sings a reprise of a song about just how much she wants to die; Dame Judi Dench's felinoid thing — yes, she is in this film — grants it the privilege of death, and it floats away to the heavens in a chandelier. You'd think this is where the film ends; you would be wrong, as the
cats all go to Trafalgar Square as Dame Judi Dench's cat recites a long, long monologue about how you understand now (you don't) and how cats are not dogs (you knew that). Every time she finishes a sentence, it sounds as though it is a definitive finish; it never is.
I left the film bemused, horrified, and extremely turned off; most of all, i left wishing i'd never watched Cats. You should go watch it, if only to share in my pain.