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Cursed  (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Cursed  (DVD)
Advantages: Entertaining enough, funny at times
Disadvantages: Silly, confusing, odd characters
Orphaned brother and sister, Jimmy and Ellie, are involved in a car accident. On trying to help the driver of the other car, they witness her being dragged away by some kind of animal. Even worse, they both receive scratches from said animal, which, Jimmy later finds out, is likely to be a werewolf. Both of them start going through some strange alterations; even worse, it appears that people involved with them are also affected. In order to get their lives back to normal, they must track down and kill the werewolf. But just who is the werewolf in his or her everyday guise? And even if they do find out who it is, will they be able to do anything about it?
The fact that this film is directed by Wes Craven was an immediate draw - I've enjoyed most of his films on one level or another. I'm also not averse to the odd film about werewolves. Unfortunately, this 2005 film has a lot of plot flaws. It isn't a terrible film, but I'm certainly not surprised that I haven't heard of it before. Starring Christina Ricci as Ellie, it also has a host of famous actors that appear at one point or another - Portia di Rossi, Shannon Elizabeth and Scott Baio particularly stand out. Fans of Bowling for Soup will be pleased to get a glimpse of the band in concert at the beginning of the film. Unfortunately, famous names do not make a good film and that is certainly the case here.
Christina Ricci is an odd little actress. She can be superb - her role in Monster, for example, is brilliant. She can also be very mediocre (as far as I'm concerned, in Penelope). Here, she is convincing enough as Ellie, who plays a young girl totally freaked out by what is happening to her. I just wasn't overly impressed by her either. That isn't, however, all her fault - I think that the way the film was written didn't give her all that much scope. Much better is her brother, Jimmy, who is played by Jessie Eisenberg (who I'm looking forward to seeing in Zombieland). He is slightly geeky to look at, reminding me of British presenter Simon Amstell, but is also very funny with it and I quickly developed an affinity with him that I didn't with his on-screen sister.
The rest of the roles are a bit of a hotch potch of appearances. Joshua Jackson plays Jake, who is Ellie's love interest and is supposed to have a major role in the film, but becomes buried amongst everything else that is going on. Portia di Rossi is a fortune teller who completely overdoes her role. I think she's trying to be funny, but it just doesn't work and ends up being nothing but painful to watch. Then there's Scott Baio, who plays himself at a function Ellie is helping to organise. It was great to see him, but I didn't understand the point of his character - it didn't really add anything to the story. And unfortunately, that is the case with nearly every other character. There are very few, probably just two others, that actually contribute anything at all to the story - it's as if they're there just to make up the numbers.
The story isn't a terrible one. It starts out well, although it is a little confusing with the appearance of Portia di Rossi's character and a couple of other girls who don't really have much to do with the rest of the film. However, the story never really seems to take off after that. It didn't bore me in any way, but I wasn't gripped by it either. As it is directed by Wes Craven, I did expect to have a few scares here and there, but they just didn't come. And the ending, which is really in two parts, is terribly over the top. I think that Craven is trying to make it entertaining and funny, but to be honest, he doesn't quite pull it off, and I was left feeling that the film fell flat - the humour that Scream has, for example, just doesn't exist here.
In any film about werewolves and the like, special effects are obviously going to be very important. And when considering that the film was made in 2005, I was expecting the effects to be top notch. Unfortunately, they aren't. The werewolf is just not very realistic - it's usually a man in a suit, interspered with computer generated bits. And the transformation scenes aren't very convincing either. Having watched the extras that come with the DVD, it is apparent that the aim was to make a film that was reminiscent of films such as An American Werewolf in London and Teen Wolf. Fair enough, but I still don't think that's an excuse to have such poor special effects. It just didn't work for me and I was left feeling disappointed.
Obviously, the film is of the horror genre, and is not going to be suitable for young children. However, it is a 15, which is perhaps a little over-generous - I think 12 year olds will handle it perfectly well, especially if it's a special Halloween treat, just because the special effects aren't all that realistic. Parents will want to judge for themselves though. There is a dog who is infected by the werewolf and although nothing really bad happens to him, I can imagine that some children would be more distressed by this than the fact that human beings are dying!
There are a few extras with the DVD. The making of documentary is interesting, if a little short. Then there's a feature on the special effects, which made me feel a little bad that I've been so critical - there was obviously a great deal of work that went into them. Then there's a feature called 'creature editing 101', which is about the computer generated parts of the film. Finally, there's a brief feature on becoming a werewolf - the actual transformation bit by the make-up people. It's introduced by Jesse Eisenberg, which is the best bit about it. If special effects are your thing, you'll probably find the extras worth watching.
Werewolf films aren't really expected to be taken seriously, so perhaps I'm being over critical of this film. Nevertheless, I just don't think it worked all that well. It isn't funny enough to be a comedy and it isn't scary enough to be a good horror. It isn't terrible though either, so if anyone manages to get hold of a copy around Halloween, it is probably worth a quick watch, so long as expectations aren't too high and you don't take your horror films too seriously. Three stars out of five.
The DVD is available from play.com for £5.99.
Running time: 97 minutes
Summary: Average, if you don't take it too seriously...