More noise than signal


This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site,

Aw, come on. It’s the latest Wes Craven film. Do you really need to know any more than that? Of course it’s rubbish. For someone continually acclaimed as the genius of modern horror, I think John Craven’s Newsround was more consistently scary than the abortions Wes has splattered against cinema screens. Arguably the first Nightmare on Elm Street brought something new to the table, and I’ve a mate who swears by The Last House on the Left. Mind you, this is the same guy who reckons Maximum Overdrive is a good film, so I’m not trusting him much filmwise. After an interminable stream of Freddy flicks which suffered from an exponential form of the law of diminishing returns about three minutes into the second installment, he makes A New Nightmare, which briefly held the coveted mantle of “worst film I’ve ever seen” until the film that must not be spoken of dethroned it. He then pulls of the elaborate confidence trick of the Scream franchise, scraping a micron thin layer of postmodern ironiscism over the same godawful film he keeps remaking and reselling it to a new generation of dumb teens. Meanwhile, Ronnie Yu does the same concept properly in Bride of Chucky and goes on to make the best Freddy film by a country mile in Freddy vs. Jason, yet gets little recognition. World gone mad, I tells ya.

Anyhoo, Cursed. Same film, with werewolves and Pacey off Dawson’s Creek. 0/5. What? More? Well, for the sake of decency I’ll pad it out some more, but that’s all the details you need. Ellie (Christina Ricci) slaves away as a researcher on some telly show, allowing one of Craven’s celeb mates another meaningless cameo, although I imagine if you asked Craven he’d say he did it to blur the boundaries between our reality and the movie’s internal reality. Her younger brother, the bookish Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) is the high school nerd / whipping boy. After some meaningless prelim killings where Craven commits the cardinal sin of showing you his monster (oo-er, missus) in the first ten minutes, dashing any hopes of suspense in favour of cheap orchestral stab jump shenanigans and gore, Jimmy and Ellie get into a car crash, Shannon Elizabeth gets eaten and our heroes are attacked by an unknown (psst, it’s a werewolf. Don’t tell anyone, you might ruin the complete absence of surprise) animal.

This leaves them cursed. Aha! TITLE OF GRAVE SIGNFICANCE! WES CRAVEN IS THE GENIUS OF MODERN HORROR! Ahem. They start eating raw meat, having enhanced reflexes, strength and sense of smell which doesn’t seem too much of a problem really. It allows Jimmy to gain some vengeance on the jocks who have been taunting him, as apparently the upgrade to Werewolf V1.0 also includes a complimentary copy of Advanced Wresting Techniques v4.5 for some reason. Ellie struggles to balance her career, looking after Jimmy, being a werewolf, rivalry with needlessly bitchy work rival Joanie (Judy Greer) (FORESHADOWING! CRAVEN’S SUBTLETY IS UNMATCHED BY ALL BUT THE MOST CARELESSLY HURLED HALF BRICK! Paul Ross, The Mirror.) and strained relationship with club-owning, ladies-man gadabout Jake (Joshua Jackson).

For reasons to painful to relate this convoluted, Sunset Beach-level relationship drama trundles along quarterheartedly for a while before the werewolf causing the bother earlier on comes after Jimmy and Ellie. But who is this nasty wolf? Will our young heroes survive to howl at another moon? Will anyone give the barest sliver of a damn? Probably not.

I’m sure someone finds this film clever, but only because they’re an idiot. Cursed takes a tone something akin to the worst episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer there’s ever been, which is not a good place to be in. At least Joss Whedon had some understanding of when making with the funny-funny is inappropriate, and didn’t have to rely of the non-existent shock value of gore to get his points across. Sadly neither can Craven, as Cursed is a film that desperately wants to butcher it’s on-screen victims but has itself been clumsily butchered in the editing suites to hit the ever important PG-13 rating. While it fades to black as some nubile wench is guzzled, the only scare you’re likely to get from Cursed comes when it fades back into the next scene and one realises there’s another hour of this garbage left. Aieeee!

Dear lord, the special effects are the least special thing I’ve seen in a good long while. Who’d have thunk that Van Helsing would have a more convincing CG wolfman than anything made after it? Come to think of it, Teen Wolf made for a more convincing werewolf. Come to think of it, your average razor-deprived tramp makes for a more convincing werewolf, and is likely to be genuinely scary as well. We recommend avoiding Cursed and heading off to the nearest underpass to taunt vagrants instead.

Some quote-whore said of this atrocity that “Wes Craven attempts to redefine the werewolf film…”. This is correct. Sadly he’s redefined it as utter, utter pish. There’s more atmosphere on the moon than in this film and tension can be measured on a scale of none to none. Parts of it are presented as tongue in cheek, and at least one moment in it is intentionally funny. Sadly the levity ruins the moments that are supposed to be frightening, and for once it wasn’t just us chuckling away in mordant, derisory laughter as an atrocious, cartooney CG werewolf slobbers around pathetically. We’ve not even mentioned the were-dog yet, and for the sake of my sanity I think it’s best we pretend it didn’t happen.

The only reason I subjected myself to this, aside from our moral obligation to guide fine specimens such as yourself away from tripe like this, was a need to find movies worse than Creep. Given how few films Britain produces, it’d be tragic if the year’s worse horror film was British. I think 9 Songs is an unbeatable candidate for this year’s worst flick overall, but Cursed makes a damn good attack of it. Awful as Creep was, Cursed has had so much money spent on it that it doesn’t really have any excuse to be awful. Ricci deserves far better, and while the only other thin I recall seeing Jesse Eisenberg in before was the excellent Roger Dodger, on the strength of that alone he deserves better. Frankly, were Mussolini alive and in the movie business he’d deserve better than this.