Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg in Dimension Films' Cursed - 2005
Photo Copyright Dimension Film
A friend of mine recently blurted in exasperation, "They just don't make good movies anymore!" This is, I think, a tad harsh. After all, watching the Oscar telecast Sunday night, we were reminded of dozens of well-made films, each worthy of the accolades they were being afforded. Unfortunately, these films are in the minority, and looking at what passes for mass entertainment at the cineplex these days, my friend's point is well taken. Chris Rock, host of the Academy Awards this year, filmed a very funny, and telling, segment for the show. He took a camera crew down the street from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood (where the Oscars are held) to a local theater to get a sense of what the people were watching. Blank stares greeted queries about any of the Academy's major nominees, but at the mention of White Chicks, nearly everyone was in agreement: one of the best movies of the year! Sigh. I suppose it's no surprise, then, that despite over a year's worth of delays and reshoots, rewrites, and even recasting, Dimension Films, Miramax's horror division, decided to foist Cursed, this week's werewolf debacle, on the theater-going public instead of dumping it straight to the DVD market where it belongs.
Before we get into the movie, let me say that I think the title, Cursed, is a decidedly appropriate one. Sure, I could make the connection with all the trouble the filmmakers encountered trying to get this film done and on the market, but, as this is my column, I think we should talk about me. I went to see Cursed on Sunday afternoon and, due to my complete lack of ability to leave the house when I say I will, I was running late. No problem. Beautiful day, clear roads, most of the traffic either already at lunch or still in church - I figured I could make up the time easy. The cop who stopped me disagreed and as a result this second rate Scream-Wolf cost a heck of a lot more than the price of a ticket. The moral of the story? You must gauge the potential quality of the the film you are rushing to see against the likelihood that you are going to lose points on your license. Martin Scorsese? Probably worth it. Clint Eastwood? I could live with that. Wes Craven in the sad, slow downward spiral of his career? I think not.
Christina Ricci (don't be fooled. She's usually good. The movie is not.) is Ellie, an overworked assistant producer for The Late Late Show, who, along with her sad über-geek brother, is treated to an evening of blood and biting after a vehicular run-in with a wandering werewolf. Almost immediately, things begin to change for the pair and events begin to follow a well-worn path through just about every teen scarefest of the last fifteen years. Written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, Cursed has a markedly Scream-esque demeanor, though most of the cleverness that Scream tapped into has long since been made ordinary by Hollywood copycats. Ellie and brother Jimmy exchange witty and ironic banter while the inner wolf in each claws it's way, inevitably, to the surface. This has to be stopped so, naturally, a search for the progenitor is waged, for if you kill the source, all the other werewolves will change back to normal. Yeah. Where have I seen that before? Kevin Williamson could have written this film in his sleep, and, at times, appears to have done so.
I'll say up front, I'm not a writer. I mean, yeah, I write this, but, since I'm the only character, the dialogue's a piece of cake. But it seems to me that, if something's been done and done and done, it would be only logical to assume that you would want to take a new twist on things. What if killing the Alpha wolf had no effect? What if it turned out that a majority of the stars in Hollywood were actually werewolves, surreptitiously keeping the canine within under wraps? What if the werewolves are just misunderstood and it's a bad human doing all the killing - kind of a eco-Sierra Club thing. Anything would have been better than the oh-so-typical monster battle that serves as the climax of this fine piece of work. And as far as special-effects go, I'm sorry to say that the more technology we get, the faker the werewolves seem to get. The wolves in this film were better than those in Van Helsing, I grant you, but only because they get less screen time.
I maintain, if you want to see a good werewolf flick, watch the classic American Werewolf in London, a horror comedy with real scares and even realer wolf FX. Or, you could check out The Howling, a scary film with weird special effects and the guts to take an old story and put a unique spin on it. Cursed is strictly werewolf-lite - a movie no bark and no bite. Grade: D+
Cursed is rated PG-13 for language, gore, and scary scenes.
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