To its credit, Cursed was plagued by production problems that went all the way up to the top. The movie we’re left with cuts right to the chase and is a fairly by the numbers, standard werewolf movie. All it really has going for it is that it’s a standard werewolf movie at a time when even standard werewolf movies just weren’t being made. That’s not much of a saving grace though. What we’re left with is a pretty forgettable movie that wastes a great director, writer and cast.
Ellie and Jimmy are siblings who get into a car crash and are both bitten by a large animal. Jimmy, an awkward teenager a few years younger than his sister, immediately begins to realize that what bit them was a werewolf. They begin to go through the motions of gaining senses, abilities and urges that they never had before. Jimmy learns that it is possible for them to turn back if they find and kill the werewolf that bit them, it’s just a matter of uncovering who that actually is.
The first problem with Cursed is that the movie was almost completely filmed twice from beginning to end. There are only a few short scenes that are similar between the two versions. What we’re seeing as the final cut is naturally the second version, and I doubt that the other cut will ever see the light of day. The plot was changed extensively to become “Scream but with a werewolf.” Everyone had already done it all once already and you can feel the exhaustion from the cast all the way up to the director.
Even Williamson is aping himself here, which is certainly not what he or anyone else set out to do. This kind of werewolf movie would have been right at home in 1998 when everyone was aping Kevin Williamson. But in 2005, it has to be different in order to leave a mark and it really doesn’t. There’s not even a death count or a gore factor to keep it interesting, because the movie was rated PG-13 to make it more accessible to a wider audience. You can certainly make an interesting PG-13 werewolf movie, it’s obviously possible. But the movie itself has to be interesting first.
Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg both make the most of what they’re given to work with and they have believable chemistry as siblings, surprisingly, even if they obviously look nothing alike. Ricci is soft-spoken and sensitive, trying to be the adult now that their parents are gone, but also not trying to be too overbearing with her brother at the same time. Eisenberg’s Jimmy is typical awkward Eisenberg, having fun and clearly not taking the material too seriously.
The only inventive angles to the story are awkwardly taken from a season two episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “Phases.” If this is mere coincidence, it’s astonishing. Jimmy looks at one website and becomes a sudden expert on the subject of werewolves. He says that the werewolf turns and feeds on the three nights when the moon is fullest, which is also something revealed in that Buffy episode. More bizzare than that, Jimmy is picked on by an alpha male jock who then privately reveals to Jimmy that he is gay which is an exact plot point and almost exact scene as the aforementioned Buffy episode.
The effects area mixture of CGI and practical and the CGI is overused and cartoony, the same problem that plagued Van Helsing a year earlier to this. The practical FX work is solid, though, created by werewolf maestro Rick Baker who won an Oscar for his work on An American Werewolf in London. His werewolf is a highlight, but much like everything else of interest in this movie, it is criminally underused.
Cursed is not the worst film from either Craven or Williamson’s career, it is simply a bland entry that falls somewhere in the middle of the road. It’s probably the most forgettable film from either of them and certainly doesn’t come up much in conversation regarding anyone involved with it. All in all, that’s probably for the best.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Wes Craven
Writer(s): Kevin Williamson
Stars: Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson
Studio/ Production Co: Outerbanks Entertainment, Dimension Films
Length: 97mins, 99mins (unrated)