March 4, 2022 The Cursed (Movie Review)
From curses to werewolves, bloodshed and a jump scare or two, released in theaters on February 18, 2022 through LD Entertainment, The Cursed is a film that bunches a lot of ideas into one. From its cliché ideas to its brilliant new ideas, this dark, interesting take on werewolves gives a fresh take on the Horror genre.
Written and directed by Sean Ellis (Cashback 2006, The Broken 2008) The Cursed starring Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl 2014, Logan 2017), Kelly Reilly (Pride & Prejudice 2005, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows 2011), Alistair Petrie (The Face of an Angel 2014, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016) and Max Mackintosh (Rocketman 2019). A period Horror film, it takes place in a late 19th-century French village that is plagued, or rather cursed, with nightmares of a supernatural monster that turns out to be real. Asked to investigate these horrific attacks is pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) who in turn has to face his own demons.
Before diving into the stereotype of Gypsies, here is a bit of background on the actual term Gypsy. The Roma, which is the proper name, originated in the Punjab region of northern India and were known as nomadic people. Eventually the Roma made their way to Europe. These people were looked at as different and unusual because of their darker skin and constant nomadic lifestyle.
In the film, the Beast of Gévaudan is mentioned by John Mcbride. This beast is identified as looking like wolves or wolf dog hybrids. The Beast is mentioned first in the former Province of Gévaudan between 1764 and 1767, where it was accused of attacking people. Supposedly the victims that did not perish from the attack became one of these beasts.
This in mind, The Cursed begins with the banishment, so to speak, of a Roma people that has taken up residence in a nearby field of the village of land baron Seamus Laurent. Instead of moving on, the Roma (Gypsies) decide to stay, which in turn leads to their slaughter. Here’s where the cliché part comes in. Just like movies before such as the 1941 classic The Wolfman, Seamus’s family is cursed by a so-called “Gypsy” woman. Of course, there is only one way to stop this curse, which is by melting down silver teeth that are found in the human jaw bones. Would you guess where these bones are? That’s right, they are buried with the Roma woman.
So begins the nightmares, starting with, you guessed it, the children. When one of the town boys mentions the same nightmare as the other children, the children venture off into the field where their dreams take place and uncover the box with the cursed object. The boy that brought the children to the field, touches the bones first and becomes hostile then attacks one of the other children (Seamus’s son Edward), but does not kill him.
Soon after this, Seamus’s son Edward (Max Mackintosh) instantly disappears. Upon his arrival Mcbride is caught questioning around town about gypsies. McBride claims he is a pathologist looking to understand these gypsy people. He is then introduced to Seamus and asked to investigate the horrific slashings in the village and help find Edward. Thus leading McBride to inform Seamus’s wife Isabelle (Kelly Reilly) of his own family’s demise of the Beast of Gévaudan (Wolf/Werewolf).
McBride eventually realizes that the only way to stop the beast is to put it down with the cursed bones or rather what is in the cursed bones, which is done by melting the silver teeth in the jaw bones and turning them into silver bullets. The film is filled with bloody scenes which make for a good slasher film. The great thing about this is that the blood does not look completely fake.
You could say a type of darkness haunts The Cursed. The Cinematography Ellis uses is very dark and gloomy. Additionally, the quick shots of the beast give the viewer a more edge of the seat thrill and a sickening vibe. Although there were maybe two jump scares in the entire film, it mostly relied on the actual creepiness and imagery of the beast and foreboding tone. This is a factor that makes it makes it much more scary.
The most intriguing part of the movie is the idea of the Beast of Gévaudan. The Cursed does not go by the idea that these attacks are coming from just werewolves, but by the idea that it is an actual beast. Most films go by the main idea that werewolves are men who turn into wolves. Whereas Ellis’s monster is in fact a monster of sorts, a beast. Granted the beast is referred to as a werewolf by the villagers, it is still a beast overall.
From good writing, different interpretations of werewolves, to great cinematography, to dark filled Horror imagery, dismissing the clichés, The Cursed is worth 4.5 out of 5 stars.