An ALUUSION is a reference to a person, place, event or passage from literature usually without explicit identification. Writers use it to create tone through an implied association. It causes the reader/viewer to recall past associations and bring them into the new interpretive setting.
The Korean film Cinderella makes use of allusion in its title. Cinderella is one of the most famous fairy tales; a version of it may be found in many cultures with slight variation. So for this film to use it as a title means there should be some explicit connections adding layers of meaning or tone. And indeed the movie does benefit from the literary associations; however, this is a horror movie – not a fairy tale.
At the core is a theme regarding the power of beauty. In the original tale, it’s Cinderella’s beauty that captures the Prince’s heart, not just her dazzling transparent footwear. Many feminists hate that, but there it is. A story where all the wicked people are female, the heroine is completely passive and doesn’t stand up for herself, and a fairy god mother who is more of an enabler than a miracle worker…and oh, yeah, she also exploits animal labor! LOL
The Korean film is also about Beauty, though it’s about Korea’s obsession with plastic surgery. This isn’t really a morality tale, though. It’s more of a see-what-extremes-Korean-women-will-go-to-in-the-name-of-beauty sort of message. A mother who happens to be a plastic surgeon, has a daughter who was scarred horribly in a fire. Same mother befriends a beautiful orphan girl (Cinderella was an orphan too). Somehow Mom gets the orphan girl to live in her basement (again, very Cinderella living in the ashes). But the story begins way way after all this and the daughter is beautiful. She finds out at the same time we do that she had been in a fire. Oddly there are no pictures from her childhood. So we’re left with an interesting question of identity (much like Cinderella from the fairy tale). Is the beautiful daughter a changeling (the orphan) and the girl in the basement the burned daughter? The girl in the basement the orphan who has donated her face to the burned daughter? I could tell you, but that’s pretty much the whole movie. That and horrible female friends as surrogate step sisters who all are vain and end up dead. Whoever is in the basement, she hangs herself in the opening frames of the film, so we are left dealing with her ghost.
So by calling your film Cinderella, you ask everyone to bring along all their prior associations with the story and it proves an interesting time finding the connections to the original tale, but they are there. One big difference is the father in the original died while this one merely got divorced out of the picture, but he does provide some interesting information along the way.
This is not a really goof horror movie, though it’s worth a watch once for fans of the genre. It’s more frightening if you understand that the females’ obsessions with beauty portrayed in this film are not hyperbolic! People in Korea give plastic surgery to their kids as graduation presents. It’s madness!