An ecumenical examination of heathen trash
by Brother Equinus Christian aka E.H. Wrangler
Cursed is the latest film by horror director Wes Craven, and the latest in a long line of blatant pro-werewolf propaganda to be disgorged from the maw of the Hollywood 'dream machine'.
The movie takes place in the den of debauchery itself. Christiana Ricci (last seen celebrating deviance in Addams Family and its equally twisted sequel) plays an uptight television producer named Ellie. She gets in a car wreck with her nerdy brother Jimmy, who is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg. The siblings are attacked by some type of half-animal monster -- yet another anti-Christian stereotype perpetuated -- and barely escape with their lives.
Following the attack, they begin to exhibit strange abilities. Heightened strength, agility and senses -- none of which, I regret I must say, are horse-related. Suspicious, they begin to suspect that they've become cursed. The audience quickly becomes cursed as well as they're forced to endure this banal, even jejune, tripe.
The movie ambles about in a lackadaisical way, with Jimmy becoming more and more interested in having supernatural powers while Ellie remains the skeptic. Her boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson), who runs a horror-themed nightclub on the Hollywood Boulevard, tries to keep her grounded in reality, but with no horses in sight in this film, it's no surprise when sanity fails to reign.
Director Craven is so obsessed with trying to maintain his post-Scream reputation, he forgot to be scary. In fact, for a horror movie, horror seems to be the farthest thing on the filmmakers' collective mind. People are chased; people are killed; and that's about it. It's a slasher movie, just with werewolves instead. Maybe it works on some artsy-fartsy metaphorical level I'm not picking up on? No. In the words of Gertrude Stein, "There's no 'there' there."
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson's script is so blatantly goofy he deserves to be beaten and then sent to Purgatory. This film wants to be The Lost Boys and An American Werewolf in London, both of which films managed to be entertaining despite their severe lack of equine representation, and it resoundingly fails to do so. Unfortunately for Williamson (and everybody else associated with this enterprise), nothing works here. The movie even goes out of its way to throw in a gay character for no discernable reason; this smacks more of Williamson's own personal issues than any legitimate dramatic device.
In terms of acting, the movie disappoints as well. Ricci couldn't have been less interested if they paid her. In fact, maybe they did pay her to be uninterested, for all I know. Eisenberg is at least engaged, but he's such a goober and given such a dumb character to play, we don't care. The movie even offers us the opportunity for one great scene -- an extended sequence at a PeTA fundraiser that virtually demands an ironic moment where a werewolf kills everyone -- but sadly, this opportunity is not capitalized on. I so wanted to see those people in the penguin costumes get eaten! Smug little flightless arctic tweeters... but then, what can you expect of a species whose natural habitat is so inhospitable to superior life forms?
Sadly, the biggest upset on display here is Jackson, who has taken a major step down in acting since his last film, Racing Stripes, for which he masterfully provided the voice of a horse. I commend him for taking that risk, representing us beautiful equines in such an enjoyable way, but here he is so much not a horse that one cannot help but notice every time he is on screen. I mean, he had achieved greatness in his last film, and here he just blows it.
Cursed is a piece of trash, pure and simple. When it's not being stupid or offensively unfunny, its complete and absolute failure to address equine issues hangs over the whole enterprise like an itchy canvas blanket. This is a movie where annoying people who have no direction in their lives embrace lycanthropy instead of equine theocracy, which is really the whole problem with this country anyway. So many young people, ignorantly turning aside from the true Way of the Hoof in order to embrace these dangerous lifestyles. It's truly quite sad.
Cursed is a film I can recommend only to overzealous Wes Craven devotees; anyone who doesn't have to watch every last one of Craven's movies may safely avoid this one. The very title promises foul and dangerous enchantment, but it's obvious that the only hex on display here is the one placed on the filmmakers, forcing them to find the most uninteresting use for the whole werewolf angle in their movie. That the whole film is so utterly lacking in horse nature makes it even worse, if that's possible. See Cursed at your own peril.