The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

Cursed (2005)
Director: Wes Craven

review by Christopher Geary

Stalked by production difficulties (including key cast replacements) and delayed by script rewrites and plot changes, werewolf movie Cursed was blighted from the beginning. It's the story of a sister and brother who are stalked and attacked by a monster, and suffer a delayed reaction to infectious bites (re-writing certain aspects of werewolf myths, both folklore and cinematic 'rules'), before the wholly 'inevitable' physical changes that follow their weird new behavioural traits ensure this sibling pair's future is thoroughly blighted by the fullness of the Moon.

L.A. TV producer Ellie (Cristina Ricci) and her young - and orphaned - brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg, from Shyamalan's The Village) are involved in a road accident on Mulholland Drive, were a car wreck survivor is dragged away by a barely-seen monstrous attacker. Afterwards, nobody believes Jimmy (crucially, of course, not even his sister), when he claims the dangerous 'animal' was actually werewolf. Later still, when a number of giveaway signs have proved Jimmy's observations beyond any doubt, the gala opening of Hollywood themed nightclub 'Tinsel' - where horror movie displays of props and stage d�cor provide a backdrop of postmodern visual riffs, is doomed when multiple creatures start ripping into the patrons and red-carpet celebrities.

ELLIE:  "Everybody's cursed... It's called life."

Kevin Williamson's genre-literate script hits all the right buttons, and Wes Craven's earnestly crowd-pleasing direction is briskly character building. However, now that all the supernatural touchstones of lycanthropy are familiar to modern audiences (raised on Buffy and The X-Files), the online data-dump and comicbook references - which furnish the film's backstory - seem like an insult to 21st century viewers, especially horror fans.

Despite evoking Nietzsche ("what does not kill you, makes you stronger" - something already tackled satisfactorily in 1981's The Howling, and again in Mike Nichols' Wolf, 1994) the dramas of Cursed are lacking suspense, or even any effective scary moments (that party-girl in the leopard-skin print dress might as well have had 'victim' tattooed on her forehead). There's a measured degree of fun to be had as nerdy student Jimmy discovers that going 'wolfie' isn't so bad (all things considered) when he impresses a potential girlfriend, and trounces the local bully during tryouts for the high school wrestling team. There's also a clumsy exploration of repressed jealousy and post-feminist leanings evident during the major action scenes where culpable blonde Joanie (Judy Greer, who delivers many of the best quips) takes centre stage. You might remember Greer as 'Deadly Girl' in superhero spoof, The Specials. Cursed presents her with opportunities to chew up the scenery as a super-villainess...

The presence of glam starlets Shannon Elizabeth and Portia de Rossi notwithstanding, perhaps the saving grace of Cursed is the talented and always engaging Ms Ricci. She effortlessly re-established a genre icon - the twisted teenager - as the precocious Wednesday in The Addams Family (1991), contributed to the limited success of Terry Gilliam's troubled production of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1997), excelled all expectations as the heroine of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, and capably portrayed Selby in 2003's Monster. Here, Ricci makes the most of her underwritten role as the female lead, shifting from the 'voice of reason' (to her grudgingly unreliable brother), to anxious resistance to changes (especially regarding her own personality after the werewolf's bite) and courageous refusal to accept her apparent fate, and new nocturnal lifestyle as a snarling man-eating beast, when she's told it's inevitable.

Admittedly, the plotline and characters of Cursed are not in the same league as those of superior offerings such as the Ginger Snaps trilogy, and Craven's psychological journeying here is certainly never as pronounced as the wholesale Freudian slippage of Neil Jordan's mesmerising A Company Of Wolves (1984), but there's plenty of subtlety delivered by Ricci's performance and the film is genuinely enjoyable at times, if you can overlook the numbing predictability of everything that happens.
Cursed

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send it
W.H. Smith





read another
review of
Cursed


home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2005 Pigasus Press