Cursed (2005)

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Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven re-team to pepper some Scream magic onto the werewolf genre…and fail. That being said, there’s a lot I enjoyed in this dumb old movie.

Christina Ricci is perfectly cast. She is so feline and otherworldly that the whole experience of Cursed is worth it just for the scene where she walks around an office seductively sniffing the air until she finds a woman with a nosebleed (yeah, it’s that kind of movie). There are lots of classic Williamson twists and turns, so many in fact that it’s as if he’s parodying himself. But as he lives and breathes self-awareness, the parody feels intentional and not a goof. Everything is more pitched to comedy than carnage; it’s very camp but entertainingly so. Where else are you going to see a werewolf flipping someone the bird? The Hollywood LA setting echoes Scream 3 in its shallow satire – just with added Scott Baio – but it’s fine. Williamson is mining teen-movies more than werewolf flicks and you have so many classic scenarios play out with an intensely knowing eye (two guys have a wrestling match to win over a girl for fuck sake) making it feel like a prototype for a lot of thriller teen shows that are everywhere now.

Also, I know we’re only eleven years out, but I can’t believe how much this film seems to define 2005. The soundtrack cuts, the fashion, the hairstyles, even the cast (remember Shannon Elizabeth?) are so quintessentially of this era that it is literally like jumping in a time machine and cringing the whole way. Cursed had a troubled production history and the scars of meddling studio hands are painfully apparent throughout (jarring cuts, mismatching hair suggesting re-shoots and awkward solutions to plot points abound) and it’s absolutely a studio product. It viciously chases the popular cultural touchstones of the day which, of-course, means the film became almost instantly dated. It still feels like a Kevin Williamson movie though (Craven less so, the film is horribly over-lit, flat and looks like television) and the bones of his original script haunt the film by suggesting something better at almost every turn.

For a werewolf movie, the special effects are frustratingly underwhelming. The film basically takes Rick Baker’s werewolf design from An American Werewolf In London and puts it on two legs but in 2005, without the clever framing and suggestive editing, the thing looks quite laughable. Plus when your key transformation scene is graded with horribly undercooked CGI you know you’ve struck out. Baker’s original make-up effects were completely reshot with effects by KNB which also explains why it’s all so terrible, design-wise.

Considering Cursed is such a mess, it’s remarkable that it still manages to be somewhat entertaining for good reasons and bad. As a fan of Craven it’s nice to finally see this thing but it really isn’t his finest hour. Ricci, Judy Greer, Joshua Jackson and even an uber-young Jesse Eisenberg all put in game performances to distract from the barrage of talent being blunted behind the camera. It’s a clusterfuck, but a fun one.

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