It's unfortunate when a film ends up being a dud, but it's even worse when you've shelled out movie ticket prices for it. The Cursed is a film that wasn't even on my radar until the day of its release, and the reviews appeared mostly positive. There was that odd one that declared the film to be "one of the best horror films of the year," which is a weird call to make in late February. But I digress. The Cursed has a good atmosphere and performances, but never quite figures out what it wants to be. Is this a demon movie? Is this a werewolf movie? Why does Boyd Holbrook need silver bullets if he kills two of them with regular bullets? So many questions, way too much time to answer them.
We begin in World War I, which was wholly unnecessary as the remainder of the film takes place 35 years later, with a brief return to WWI at the end, but with no major relevance. A British aristocrat hires mercenaries to intimidate a Romani clan on his land, and instead they just kill everyone. The survivors put a curse on the aristocrat's family; a curse that lives inside a set of silver fangs supposedly cast from the silver given to Judas for betraying Christ. So, a pretty intriguing start. But then the werewolf stuff starts up, and the CGI is horrendous. It's a shame because the design is really freakish, almost reminiscent of H.R. Giger. The biggest problem from there is that the film moves like a turtle, taking forever to move from horror scene to horror scene. I nodded off more than a few times.
There's a really cool movie somewhere inside The Cursed. But Sean Ellis has a pacing problem with most of his work. I saw the same thing when I watched Anthropoid. There's not a lot connecting us to the characters, the ending doesn't feel earned, and the horror gets lost in a sea of bad visual effects and lighting. Overall, it's just a real mess.
In the horror genre, it’s pretty common for a little indie film to hit the festival circuit and start building up a bunch of hype. Something which carries over to when it gets picked up and rolled out for a wider theatrical release. Those who saw it at the festival will talk highly about it and the trailers will put good quotes throughout. Now, from here, it can go two different ways. One way is the film lands just as much with a wider audience and continues to find the love it so rightly deserves. The other way is the film ends up not being nearly as good as it was made out to be and ends up disappearing not too long after this wider theatrical release. Just for the rest of us horror fans to wonder what all the hype was even about. Unfortunately, this is the route The Cursed finds itself on.
Let’s get the few positives out of the way. The atmosphere is some of the best I’ve witnessed in a recent horror movie and genuinely lends itself to the horror period piece they are. Secondly, the gore is just plain awesome. The film never holds back on showing the grisly details and for good reason. That’s about where the positives end for me, though. The way this story is told is incredibly off putting and makes it extremely difficult to care what is going on. This further extends to the characters. Our main family we’re following is incredibly one dimensional and beyond boring to watch. Then there’s the supporting cast of characters who just kind of pop in and out with no motivation for why they’re there. As for the creatures hinted at in the trailer. Well, if it wasn’t for the horrendous CGI used to create them, they would actually be terrifying. It also doesn’t help the filmmaker made the odd decision to constantly shake the camera and blur the screen during every single attack.
This was a nearly two-hour film which felt so much longer. This has never been a sign of a good film for me. The Cursed lands dead on its feet due to horrendous CGI creatures, horrendous characters, and a disengaging story.