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cursed: anything but
on June 13, 2014
i recently watched cursed, and i must say it left me wondering: why does this movie engender so much hate? is it because of all the press preceding its' release, that production was troubled? is it more of the boring backlash that old horror masters seem to get because they make movies differently, now that they are forty years older? or was it simply fatigue at yet another dimension flick, and its' slick portrayal of self-aware characters, who are in on the joke? whatever it was, i really liked this movie, and it showed me that wes craven and kevin williamson's partnership extends beyond scream.
basically, the story concerns a brother and sister played by the ever awesome christina ricci and jesse eisenberg, who are bitten by a werewolf. what ensues, of course, is the two sibs experiencing the strange precursors to going full wolfy, like smelling blood, waking up nekid in the yard, sudden animosity from the family dog, and a pentagram suddenly being on their palms. but what's more interesting is the classic williamson whodonnit that pervades this movie. who is the werewolf? where did the curse begin? we are given many possibilities. additionally, cursed takes one tired and true trope of movies involving outcasts and turns it upside down. very nice. it also makes a few interesting contributions to werewolf mythology.
the cast is fully entertaining, from the two leads, to supporters judy greer, who is, of course, bitchilly hilarious, the mysterious and likeable joshua jackson of fringe fame, and bit supporters like portia di rossi in the requisite fortune teller role, and horror fave shannon elizabeth as an early victim. ricci and eisenberg work well together, one ready to accept what is happening to them, the other in denial. this conveniently mirrors their family lives, so, you just know that the catharsis of turning into slobbering beasties will bring them closer together.
craven directs this movie with great smoothness. it's amazing to think he started with last house on the left, because his camera has really evolved into something graceful, fluid and, more surprisingly, beautiful. i think craven deserves more recognition for how gorgeously he can construct a shot, and, as he has gotten older, i think this has become one of his hallmark. cursed isn't meant to be a grueling exercise in terror; craven is fully aware that he is directing light entertainment, and he succeeds admirably. i wasn't bored or uninterested for a frame of this movie. it fits neatly into a ten-year horror block of dimension films, including the scream movies, the faculty, h20, teaching ms. Tingle, phantoms and others, that I really enjoy.
and a word on the visual effects: rick baker is obviously the master of many things, not the least of which are werewolves and apes. further, he has effectively (see the wolf man) blended practical make-ups with cgi, which is how it should be done, in my opinion. cursed provides uneven results. the werewolves themselves look great, very american werewolf in london-y. the transformations are somewhere in the middle, the practical parts looking great, the cgi stuff looking a little cartoony. the werewolf movements were also a little hokey when done by computer, but gorgeous in close-ups. overall the effects do more to help than harm this entertaining flick. additionally, homages abound, from wax figures of freddy kreuger to lon chaney's wolf man. The silver tipped cane that was his undoing in 1941 even makes an appearance.
cursed is fully engaging entertainment that proves the werewolf is still a viable, entertaining, and sympathetic movie monster. as with my soul to take and scream 4, don't believe the hate: craven still rocks. see this one for yourself.