The Cursed follows a late-19th century town that is besieged by a curse that leads to a child going missing and several bodies being found mutilated. A pathologist comes to the town and offers his services to stop the murders and solve the curse to save the town and its people.
[This movie was viewed (a rent purchase) via Vudu at the time of this review.]
The Cursed Review
The Cursed felt like a smorgasbord of horror elements in the trailer and much of that turned true in the film as well. It was also a smorgasbord of pacing and fantastically shot scenes. The Cursed was, in its entirety, a flawed yet impressive creature feature disguised as a haunting period piece. The film's quality can be found from its directing, cinematography, acting, script, and much of its effects work. The plot was engaging and, while familiar in its overarching concept, tackled its similarities in fresh ways.
I believe it is worth noting that unlike many horror films of a similar ilk, The Cursed isn't trying to shoehorn in a twist or mystery. The reason for the curse is made known early. This brings with it both the good and the bad. We aren't exposed to a choppy visual montage in the "big reveal" in the climax, which would have cheapened the impact of the curse's retribution. But we also must endure the protagonist's gradual realization of the curse's origin when we already know it. Thankfully, they limit the screen time devoted to this subplot, focusing more on the mystery behind the murders.
A problem that tends to populate in period pieces is pacing. And despite that hefty alliteration, I found that to be a tad bit of an issue in this film as well. And while I found myself wanting things to move just a bit faster, that minor frustration was fueled because of my interest in where it was going. What essentially becomes a monster movie, The Cursed gave me vibes of The Hallow fused with a period piece tackling a particular subset of horror that I won't overtly reveal because, one, you may want to experience it for yourself and, two, it's not important to approach the film with that lens because the film tackles it in such a unique way.
I loved the investigative formula of the film. The pathologist clearly knows what is afoot in the town, but he only makes the townsfolk, and us as an audience, privy when it is necessary and beneficial to do so. I love a good monster movie, and one of my favorite aspects is the dissection of how the creature operates; from its behavior to its biological makeup to how to stop it. All of these are elements that are detailed throughout, between brutal slayings by the creature, and I was fascinated by the methods of revelation and the creature design in many regards.
The horror scenes in this film are fantastically done. I loved the way they were shot, the gradual reveal of the creature, and the brutal attention to detail in the attacks. The cinematography teases you in just the right ways, but knows when it's time to give the audience a little more. I wouldn't call the reliance on CG my first choice, of course, but it helped that it was beyond passable, especially when the victims are all practical in their mangled appendages and blood-spattered faces.
I must admit that I am a sucker for a well-constructed monster movie. As such, I tend to put them on pedestals higher than they deserve and give them longer leashes on their flaws. But I do feel this movie has plenty going for it beyond the creatures. It invests in its actors, plot, and effects, providing a cohesive experience that is both rewarding and entertaining for horror fans. Its ability to span a broad spectrum of horror elements, from war to the suffering of the struggling beneath the entitled to the unadulterated monster mayhem...it makes for a great horror film that will likely make my top 10 list for the year.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 10/10
Horror Quality: 9/10
Film Quality: 8/10