Horror Reviews

Saturday, April 18, 2009

DVD Review: Cursed

Review by Kristin Battestella

As if we needed another werewolf movie, Wes Craven’s 2005 wolf fest Cursed came and went at the box office. Plagued by actor pullouts, production problems, and script changes, the unrated edition of Cursed actually wasn’t that bad.

Christina Ricci stars as Ellie, a Craig Kilborn executive who’s trying to balance work, her younger brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) and her on again off again flame Jake (Joshua Jackson). After a grotesque car accident and strange encounter with a dog like beast, the orphaned siblings develop super strength, keen senses, and an allergy to silver.

The acting isn’t that bad, but it’s to be expected, and nothing here will take home any Oscars. Cheesecake victims Shannon Elizabeth and Mya are fitting scream queens, and Judy Greer (Jawbreaker) is perfect as Ellie’s bitchy boss. Only Joshua Jackson seems out of place. I’ve never seen Dawson’s Creek, and Jackson’s good guy turn in Gossip only solidified my Mighty Ducks perceptions. His ambiguous portrayal of reformed entrepreneur playboy Jake does help the films werewolf guessing game. Is he a werewolf? Good? Bad? I only wish Jackson wasn’t so wooden or hokey.

Christina Ricci has had far better success moving forward from kid roles. After Mermaids and Addams Family Values, Ricci turned to mature films like Prozac Nation and has developed a cult following with macabre films like Sleepy Hollow. Even though she always seems to be playing the same character, Ricci sells Ellie well, it’s not a stretch to believe her as the serious, intelligent executive who turns sexy, sassy, and spunky with here werewolf problems and powers. Ricci and Eisenberg look like brother and sister, and they play off each other well. Director Craven smartly focuses the film on the siblings and establishes their troubles early on. Craven balances the seriousness and humor here well. Craig Kilborn does make his appearance, but a sway towards total humor would make Cursed too hokey.

Craven has lost a step with some uneven Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, but the behind the cameras renaissance man has produced several quiet gems, including the remake of his own The Hills Have Eyes. With all the trouble Cursed faced, Craven and final screenwriter Kevin Williamson have accomplished much. I’m operating from the unrated version, which seems to have more head chopping and a few extra moments of gore. The opening car wreck is impressive, and Craven smartly delays the werewolf’s big reveal until well into the film. Some directors become successful and forget their fans or underestimate their audiences. Not here. Craven appreciates his fans, even pays homage to his past with props from his earlier work decorating Cursed’s horror themed nightclub.

One very pleasant aspect of Cursed is the ending. Even though it didn’t fair well at the box office, Craven left no room for a sequel. Ellie’s story and the werewolf mysteries are resolved nice and pretty. We like Ellie and Jimmy-we’ve rooted for them, but I for one am glad there is a complete ending. No jump out monster or screaming before the fade to black ala I Know What You Did Last Summer. It’s quite refreshing in this day of franchises.

The unrated DVD of Cursed is now quite affordable. Naturally it has the standard behind the scenes material and features from Craven. I wouldn’t have paid the price of admission at the movies, but Cursed is ideal for a chilly Halloween movie night.