Now, I have to admit I am not a huge fan of werewolf movies with the exception of the “Ginger Snaps” franchise but I am a big fan of Wes Craven – the EARLY pre-“Scream” Wes Craven, that is. And after seeing “Cursed”, starring Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson and Jesse Eisenberg, I’m still not a big fan of werewolf movies but I AM still a fan of the pre-“Scream” Wes Craven.
The movie plays like so many of the teen horror films today with a few novel exceptions – the heroes are siblings and Ricci’s character, Ellie, works within the Hollywood machine, as a publicist on “The Craig Kilborn Show” which gave writer Kevin Williamson the opportunity for some inside joking around. Other than that, this could have just been another entry in the “Scream” series: cameos by Shannon Elizabeth, Portia de Rossi, Mya, Lance Bass, Scott Baio and Craig Kilborn (all three playing themselves) and the other principal actors all seemed stamped by the “Scream” cookie-cutter. Even the plot was predictable, down to the usual people-going-into-dark-rooms-and-not-turning-on-the-damn-lights and it was pretty easy to guess who the “villain” was and how everything was going to end.
The special effects, by the great Rick Baker, weren’t bad although the CGI was WAY too obvious to be scary. The gore, however, which was REALLY trimmed for the PG-13 theatrical release, IS here in all its dripping, slimy glory. There was one effective dream sequence that startled me with a literal fountain of gushing grue and Shannon Elizabeth’s demise involved seeing the lovely lady trying to drag her body, JUST the upper half of her body, with entrails hanging out, away from the site of her attack. We have one character doing an almost erotic “taste-test” on the globs of hemoglobin stuck to her hands and fingers after she has disemboweled a victim and a fairly graphic decapitation involving the ever handy shovel and some extra “push” from the decapitators to ensure the job gets done. There are some other fairly gruesome dispatchings of characters but the ones just mentioned were VERY effective.
The acting wasn’t bad – Christina Ricci is great in everything she does and Jesse Eisenberg as her little brother, Jimmy, was effective as the high school geek who gets his revenge. There was an interesting little plot twist involving the boyfriend of Jimmy’s crush Brooke that I didn’t expect and found amusing and Milo Ventimiglia as Bo, the boyfriend, who is first Jimmy’s main tormentor and then later a comrade-in-arms, was very good. I almost didn’t recognize Portia de Rossi as Zela the gypsy but thought she did well in her tiny but important-to-the-plot role but I was disappointed at how brief Shannon Elizabeth’s role was as the DVD box has her third billed, as though she has a much bigger part. She is the Drew Barrymore of this film. Even Solar as Zipper, Ellie and Jimmy’s pet dog, performed admirably especially when the “curse” is upon him. Dr. Mambo had better watch his back.
I should also mention the soundtrack which had some great songs on it, beginning with the quintessential, along with “Bad Moon Rising”, werewolf movie song, “Lil’ Red Riding Hood”, performed here by Bowling for Soup. There are also songs by Collective Soul, Seven Wiser, Steve Harwell, Whodini, Apollo 440, Three Days Grace and Dashboard Confessional. The soundtrack is available on Image Entertainment.
All in all, the unrated version of “Cursed” isn’t terrible – I enjoyed watching it as a new movie but it’s not one I would return to watch again and again. But, compared to the garbage being released lately, like “Alone in the Dark” or any of the “Chucky” movies, I would always pick a Wes Craven film as I know that there will be moments of greatness. But I recommend going with his older stuff – if you want to be really freaked out, try “The Last House on the Left” or “The Hills Have Eyes”. Or check out the wonderful “Ginger Snaps” series if you want to see some great and original werewolf films.