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Cursed (2005)

Review

Author
Date
04-11-2005
Comments

After years of delays, it turns out that Cursed is not worth its weight in silver. Hell, it's not even worth your time. As much as I admire Wes Craven when he's at his best (New Nightmare), when the master misses the mark, he misses by a mile. Cursed isn't Craven's worst film -- that dubious honor falls on Vampire in Brooklyn -- but it's only better than Vampire by a crotch sniff.

Penned by Kevin Williamson, Craven's collaborator on the hit slasher flicks Scream and Scream 2, Cursed is an updated version of the classic celluloid Lycanthrope tale that's entertained audiences since Universal's heyday. Updated, however, is a relative term. You'll understand what I mean when you see the computer-generated werewolves in this film. I've seen better CGI in toothpaste commercials, and I've seen more original werewolf designs in films from the 30s. But I digress.

Cursed centers around a high school comic buff named Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) and his older sister, Ellie (the always-good-except-in-this-movie Christina Ricci). Said siblings are driving on Mulholland Drive one moonlit eve when they are run off the road and attacked by some kind of large beast. The cops think it's a bear. Jimmy knows better. He thinks the attacker is a werewolf.

Jimmy's suspicions are confirmed when both he and his sister begin to exhibit supernatural changes that include increased appetite, enhanced sexual attraction, and hair where there's never been hair before. Williamson's tepid treatment of werewolf mythology as metaphor for puberty is both heavy-handed and old news. Like everything else in this film, it's a half-baked idea ripped off from much better source material (see: Ginger Snaps).

Generally speaking, a love bite isn't supposed to hurt.Generally speaking, a love bite isn't supposed to hurt

The film heads further south when it decides to abandon its focus on Ellie and Jimmy's transformations in service of a lame mystery. Craven and Williamson lazily provide us with only one red herring as to the identity of the master werewolf, therefore killing any momentum right from the get-go. As Yoda might say, suspenseful this film is not.

Also, Cursed lacks any self-referential or even remotely interesting dialogue. Williamson and Craven seem to have forgotten that what made Scream so memorable was its ability to shock audiences without taking them for granted with vapid characters and speech. This film is a jump in the opposite direction, with cliche-ridden characters, wooden performances, and no spark of originality whatsoever.

My biggest dose of venom, however, is reserved for the studio bosses who sliced and diced Craven's film to get the more marketable PG-13 rating. The edited gore and scares have left this film as limp as a Viagra-free Bob Dole. All the chopping and cutting done to the film in post-production makes it seem like a rushed product, not one that took years to complete.

And it's a shame. Who knows how good Cursed could have been had it not been for constant studio-ordered rewrites and touch-ups. Maybe it would still exist in its current half-baked form. Maybe not. But based on the cut I saw, which is all I have to go on, it's a cinematic black hole in the career of one of the great horror masters. Hopefully, when the film hits DVD, some of the original material will be released alongside this god-awful mess of a theatrical release. If that footage isn't any good either, then it's time to put a silver bullet in the creative relationship of Craven and Williamson. Trust me, if this is the best they can do nowadays, they aren't doing each other any favors.

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