What with it being the month of Halloween, I figured I’d get re-linky (apologies, Will Smith) and stuff the archives here and there with a few reviews of (ostensibly) scary movies. Ergo, this refreshing of poor Wes Craven’s Cursed, only slightly redacted from its original publication in Screen International. To wit:
The release date of 2005 tells one side, perhaps the
official one, to Cursed, the new
werewolf picture from Dimension, the in-house genre arm of Miramax that
revitalized the modern horror landscape with the self-aware yet scary Scream pictures from what now seems like
eons ago. Almost every frame of its being, however, tells the other side of a Cursed story — of a troubled and shelved production (it shot in
2003) stitched together and reanimated as an awkward, unconvincing entry in the
PG-13, jolt-and-shock, teen disposable income sweepstakes. The result is
spectacularly and unremittingly awful.
stars as Ellie Myers, a talent booker on The
Craig Kilborn Show (one of several signs of the movie’s datedness, since Mr.
Kilborn is no longer on television) whose newish boyfriend is party planner
Joshua Jackson). Ellie and her younger brother Jimmy (an unappealing Jesse
Eisenberg), a bookish high school wallflower, get into a car accident with
Becky (Shannon Elizabeth).
All three are then attacked by a vicious, hairy and
mysterious creature, but Ellie and Jimmy survive, only to then have heightened
senses and a strange (and presumably new) predilection for chewing on raw bacon.
As Jimmy reads up on werewolves and faces down a coterie of gel-haired bullies
that actually do things like slap books out of his hands and lob a steady
stream of homophobic insults his way, so Ellie does her best to ignore any
symptoms of hirsute change and instead cope with a weirdly insistent and
abrasive publicist, Joanie (Judy Greer). Spurred on by a bizarre confession
from Jake, Ellie finally acknowledges there might be something to Jimmy’s
supposition that they’ve been “marked by the beast.” Things come to a
head at a
under a full moon of course.
If the narrative synopsis sounds vague and confusing, it’s
because Cursed doesn’t have a
cohesive plot; the film in theory takes place over the course of two nights,
but the re-conceptualized story places scenes up against one another that find
characters behaving in nonsensical, contradictory ways. The relationships
between certain key characters are never wholly and accurately defined. The
roles of the aforementioned Elizabeth and singer-actress Mya have seemingly
been whittled down from plot-device supporting players to essentially cameos,
and Jackson’s and Greer’s parts figure to have been drastically reconstituted
and tailored to fit new-fangled conveniences.
A herky-jerky, movie-like mass, Cursed moves hastily and inexorably forward, but like one of those
wooden-track rollercoaster rides that induces more aches than thrills. A
picture of this conspicuous popcorn type shouldn’t have you checking your
watch, but Cursed stumbles so badly
with its irrational, illogical plotting that it feels interminable, and it’s
quite a shock at the end to discover only 95 minutes have passed.
creature effects, but these are easily cancelled out by wretched and laughable
CGI that rob the werewolf scenes of any beastly scares. “What doesn’t kill
you makes you stronger,” goes the old saying. With Cursed, though, all but the most hardcore and generous (read:
uncritical) genre audiences will be praying for an end to their lycanthropic
For the full original review, from Screen International, click here.