Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: "Cursed" is an Odd Werewolf Movie (Happy B'day, Christina Ricci)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 29 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Cursed (2005)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for horror violence/terror, some sexual references, nudity, language, and a brief drug reference
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
WRITER: Kevin Williamson
PRODUCERS: Marianne Maddalena and Kevin Williamson
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Robert McLachlan with Don McCuaig
EDITORS: Raúl Dávalos, Gregg Featherman, Patrick Lussier, and Lisa Romaniw

HORROR/MYSTERY with elements of comedy and thriller

Starring: Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Milo Ventimiglia, Kristina Anapau, Michael Rosenbaum, Mya, Judie Greer, Jonny Acker, Eric Ladin, Shannon Elizabeth, Scott Baio, Craig Kilborn, Lance Bass, Portia De Rossi, Bambi Allen, and Derek Mears

It’s released delayed over a year, Cursed, the teen/20-something oriented werewolf movie from director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, the creators of Scream, finally made it to wide release the last weekend of February 2005. The film was not screened for critics and early word on the Net from fans who claimed to have seen it was poor… But I liked it. Cursed is not great and it has some problems; the makers don’t seem sure if they want a horror movie or a comedy, but scares and laughs mix a little better than oil and water in this instance. Thus, we have a new horror sub-genre – comic horror.

In the film, estranged siblings still dealing with their parents’ death (the film is never quite clear how recent they died or if they were killed) are attacked by a werewolf while trying to help a young woman in a car accident. Ellie (Christina Ricci), the sister, is some kind of producer for The Craig Kilborn Show. She’s always busy juggling guests for the show, and she’s hit a rough patch with her boyfriend, Jake (Joshua Jackson). Her younger brother, Jimmy (Jessie Eisenberg), is dealing with trials of high school as painfully shy nerdy kid who gets grief from the jock types, especially after he becomes attracted to Brooke (Kristina Anapau), a jock’s girlfriend.

At first, Ellie is reluctant to believe that a werewolf attacked them, and it deepens the riff between her and her brother, but eventually the physically changes to her body and her strange behavior convinces Ellie of the truth. A sexy gypsy fortuneteller informs Ellie that she is cursed, and that she must find the werewolf that attacked her (whom Ellie and Jimmy assume to be “the master”) and destroy it in order to break the curse of the werewolf or they too will become beasts. As usual, things are a lot more complicated, and there are several suspects, and it seems more than one villain wishes to harm Ellie and Jimmy.

The bad in Cursed: cheesy CGI to create a werewolf. I hate CGI werewolves, and there's a transformation scene in this movie that is more a mixture of live action and animation than it is computer generated imagery. Also, a lot of the acting is flat or is more pretending than acting, and a few cast members seem to be going through the motions or doing a paint-by-numbers version of acting. The characters are mostly a bunch of pretty people who drive expensive, high-end, luxury cars and act dumb. There’s not much to the plot, which the filmmakers stretch almost to the breaking point, and the story is limp. The film also lacks some poignancy, and it too conveniently resolves family and relationship problems.

The good: Christina Ricci and Jessie Eisenberg really buy into the concept. Everything about the duo rings true: their backstory, living situations, social relationships, and plight. They, more than any other element, sell Cursed to the audience. Rick Baker does some stellar makeup and mechanical effects work, but what else can one expect from this master effects man? The film’s atmosphere is also very good. It’s sometimes funny and outrageous and other times pretty scary, and there are also some nice character twists. Drop disbelief and don’t take Cursed too seriously. I had a blast.

6 of 10

Saturday, February 26, 2005


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