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  Cursed What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Cooler
Year: 2005
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, Milo Ventimiglia, Mya, Shannon Elizabeth, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristina Anapau, Portia de Rossi, Daniel Edward Mora, Scott Baio, Johnny Acker, Eric Ladin, Michelle Krusiec, Craig Kilborn
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: At a carnival, two friends Jenny (Mya) and Becky (Shannon Elizabeth) go to visit the fortune teller (Portia de Rossi) to get some advice on men. However, she's not interested in telling them about that, and seizes their hands, examining them closely with great concern and informing them they are in a lot of danger. The women quickly leave. Meanwhile, teenage Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) meets by chance a girl he knows from school, but as Jimmy is far from being one of the cool members among his peers, Brooke (Kristina Apanau) doesn't recognise him. Then her boyfriend Bo (Milo Ventimiglia) shows up with his friends and start picking on Jimmy, who promptly flees, calling his sister Ellie (Christina Ricci) to ask her to pick him up - it's going to be a harrowing night for both of them.

The problems that Cursed endured during its protracted production became semi-legendary, and it all should have gone so smoothly on paper. It was the first team up from scriptwriter Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven since the blockbuster hit Scream series, and everyone involved was presumably hoping that history would repeat itself this time around. It was not to be, as Williamson's script was rewritten throughout and the film effectively had to be filmed twice, with a change of cast for many of the roles, and the film's release was delayed for almost a year. When it did finally come out, the reviews were not exactly great and the box office takings weren't much better.

Maybe werewolves weren't good business in horror movies at the time, because if the filmmakers thought that Cursed would do for lycanthropy what Scream did for slashers, they were wrong. Having said that, the film really isn't appallingly awful, just rather bloodless and flippant for such a potentially gory and tragic subject matter. Craven doesn't have a terrific track record for revitalising "classic" monsters, as his Vampire in Brooklyn didn't do anything for vampires and Deadly Friend was a failed variation on the Frankenstein story, and here he brings a gloss to the werewolves (makeup designed by An American Werewolf in London's Rick Baker) where more grit would have been preferable.

Ellie and Jimmy are driving home then, when suddenly their car hits an animal rushing across the road, causing them to smash into another car, driven by Becky, which tumbles over a ridge. Ellie rushes down the embankment while Jimmy tries to 'phone for help, and she finds Becky upside down and trapped. The emergency services are on their way, but Becky is panicking, so Jimmy manages with some effort to release her, but as soon as she is free, a huge beast drags her out of the car and Jimmy and Ellie with her. You know how this will end, yes, Becky is eaten while the siblings are bitten and they start feeling rather strange.

All at once they are more sexually alluring, stronger and have a taste for meat, and refreshingly Jimmy believes at once that they are well on the way to becoming werewolves, reading up on the subject to see what can be done about the situation. Ellie is more sceptical and returns to her job in television, where we get to see the main suspects of who the real werewolf is, a bit like The Beast Must Die (no werewolf break to allow you to guess here, though). Is it her boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson), who has been arranging a horror themed party at a nightclub? Is it catty researcher Joanie (Judy Greer), or assistant Kyle (Michael Rosenbaum) or even Scott Baio as himself? While Cursed jogs along amiably enough, the film is handicapped by its refusal to have Ellie and Jimmy turn into wolves and start killing, preferring to leave that to other afflicted characters; consequently the film is good natured but mild, not necessarily useful qualities in horror. It's entertaining enough while it's on. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Wes Craven  (1939 - )

Intelligent American director, producer and writer, at his most effective when, perhaps paradoxically, he was at his most thoughtful. Controversial shocker Last House on the Left set him on a path of horror movies, the best of which are The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, New Nightmare and Scream (which revitalised the slasher genre).

Less impressive are Deadly Blessing, Swamp Thing, the ridiculous Hills Have Eyes Part II, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed and the successful Scream sequels (the last of which was his final movie). Music of the Heart was a change of pace for Craven, but not a hit, though aeroplane thriller Red Eye was a successful attempt at something different; My Soul To Take, an attempt at more of the same, flopped. One of the pioneers of the American new wave of horror of the 1970s and 80s, he brought a true edge, wit and imagination to the genre.

 
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