Thursday, February 24, 2005


Cursed (Director: Wes Craven)

You all know Wes, you know how he makes a livin'...bad films. I'll give him Scream, I liked that one, but I haven't liked any of his other films, including A Nightmare on Elm Street. Even if you give him that, and the cult film The Last House on the Left (I don't), you still have Vampire in Brooklyn, the much too self-aware Scream sequels, and countless other misfires. Cursed reunites Craven with Scream writer Kevin Williamson.

And, I remember going into Scream with the bad feeling it was going to suck horribly, and was pleasantly surprised. It was a different take on horror, complete with a surprise that I didn't see coming. Now, we're in the post-Usual Suspects-Scream-Sixth Sense world where it's tough to surprise anyone anymore. It becomes a matter of what the surprise is going to be--something you can usually figure out, too. In this, though, the lack of joy these filmmakers had in making this shows, and when it's time to "unmask" it's really not much of a surprise as it is just straightforward whatever crap.

Siblings Ellie (Christina Ricci) and Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) have gotten into an accident. The other car in the accident tumbles into the woods, and they go to help, but when everything is almost OK, a werewolf comes in and sinks its teeth into passenger Becky (Shannon Elizabeth), who is taken forcibly out of the car as Ellie and Jimmy try to hold on. Something happens to Ellie and Jimmy, and they start taking on werewolf characteristics (but, by the way, never turn into werewolves the entire movie) as the days go by. They are...cursed.

This new reality enters into their personal lives, as Ellie tries to make a relationship work with Jake (Joshua Jackson), and Jimmy tries to win the hot girl Brooke (Kristina Anapau) who works at Mann's Chinese but is being horded by uber-asshole Bo (Milo Ventimiglia). The movie is nothing but delayed and restricted orgasm, as there's a lot of scenes where something almost happens, and then there's the matter of another werewolf (or werewolves) out there, killing for whatever reason--and you'll be sure to know it's someone within their select company. One character changes completely midway, as unbelieveable a change as you'll ever see in film, and he's not even one of the werewolves. Also, the film already shows its age, having been shelved most likely for some time, when you find out that Ellie works for "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," a show Kilborn left in September.

Williamson's trademark high school hangups are all in here, but his wit with material went away somewhere in the late nineties, after tons of "Dawson's Creek" episodes, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and The Faculty. He has nothing to say anymore, it seems, at least in this genre. This film has two extremely all-time campy scenes, more embarassing than charming--as Jimmy howls at several neighborhood dogs from his bedroom window, and a werewolf (whose identity has just been revealed) gets upset at some insults Ricci spouts and flips the bird. The movie is, without a doubt, one of the biggest messes you'll ever see. For example, in one scene, Jackson greets Ricci with tremendous warmth, begging her to stay with him and get between the sheets later, and with almost no prompting, asks for space near the end of the scene.

The true test of this horror success of late will be this film. Everything that says it's horror is making money nowadays, even the atrocious Boogeyman. This is worse than that film, but I can't imagine this not making a profit--horror is cheap and easy, and Craven and Williamson sleepwalk through this one. At some point, I feel, there will be backlash for all this putrid stuff...but who can deny its success?


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