The first 2-3 months of the year are seen as a dumping ground for movies, but one genre that has found its legs this year has been PG-13 suspense horror thrillers. Costing very little to make, the likes of “White Noise”, “Hide and Seek” and “Boogeyman” have all been quite terrible in terms of quality. Yet all opened around or above $20 million and should do quite well on DVD making these sort of films a surprisingly lucrative little earner. The next effort off the rank is “Cursed”, a film which much like last year’s “Exorcist: The Beginning”, has been known more for its disastrous behind the scenes story than its actual content.
Essentially completed over a year ago, the studios decided to revamp the whole werewolf look for the film, and as a result not only were huge swaths reshot but much of the cast was replaced due to many not being able to fit the reshoots into their schedule. Why they went to such a huge expense was probably because many expected this teaming of “Scream 1 & 2” Director Wes Craven and scribe Kevin Williamson to hopefully spawn another franchise. What they’ve delivered however is a movie that is so sub-par that even their “Scream” characters wouldn’t consider it worth satirising.
What it lacks is both humour and horror, the two distinct qualities the “Scream” franchise had in spades. Williamson’s script is tired, moving through all the cliches without any real kind of skewering or attempts to be original. Craven’s directing seems tired, never going for actual creepiness rather shooting it almost like he’s trying to do a splatter movie but without the gore. This would make sense considering the film’s original rough cut was a heavy R-rated effort but even with the blood intact, it can’t hide the jumbled editing, atrociously bad CG werewolf effects or mishandling of tired subplots.
Amongst these cliched mini-stories there’s the dweebish kid getting brave, the homophobic jock turning out gay, and countless utterly embarassing cameos ranging from Portia De Rossi’s gypsy and Shannon Elizabeth’s crash victim to Michael Rosenbaum’s publicist and Scott Baio as himself. Ricci and Greer have done so much better, whilst newcomer Eisenberg has potential but is wasted. The only one to come out unscathed is Joshua Jackson who seems to realise he’s stuck in a dead-end role and just seems to have sat back and gotten some shut eye during takes.
So is it terrible? In some ways yes but that doesn’t make it a wash. At 86 minutes its fast paced, the Los Angeles locales are handled in a fun way and whilst both seem to be off their game, Craven & Williamson are naturally good at what they do which makes “Cursed” more entertaining than those three aforementioned PG-13 horror flicks (though “White Noise” was much creepier). Considering the pedigree this should have been SO much more. What’s here is barely worth a rental.