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DVD Review: Cursed (2005)

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Most werewolf movies – with a few notable exceptions – are pretty bad. Most Wes Craven movies – with a few notable exceptions – are pretty good. So where does Cursed fall? Like werewolves themselves, this lycanthrope thriller falls somewhere in between.

Ellie (Christina Ricci) and Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) are estranged siblings still coping with the death of their parents. They soon have a great deal more to cope with, however, when something darts in front of their car, causing a head-on collision with another car. The other motorist is killed (Shannon Elizabeth, whose death is exceptionally gory in the unrated version) by the mysterious creature, which also scratches Ellie and Jimmy. Soon the two siblings undergo a series of changes, including enhanced agility, an animal attraction felt by their schoolmates and co-workers, and a blood=lust felt by themselves. Ellie’s boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson) has the answers, since he’s a lycanthrope himself. The siblings must find the werewolf that bit them if they are to have any semblance of a normal life.

Written by Craven’s Scream collaborator Kevin Williamson, the movie shares the same genre-conscious tone of the Ghostface films. Set in LA, the film has numerous cameos from Porta de Rissi, Mya, Lance Bass and more. In a clear sign of the movie’s age, Ellie works for the Craig Kilborn Show (which had long been off the air even when the movie was released). This underlines a key problem with the film, as production and script hassles held the film back for years. Frankly, it shows, and the final result seems a ham-fisted and predictable affair.

Outside of the horror, the humor is the sole outstanding element of the film. Both Ellie and Jimmy find themselves with considerably more sexual attraction from their co-workers. Ellie finds herself fending off both Craig Kilborn himself and Michael Rosenbaum of Smallville fame. Jimmy receives the short end of the hormone stick – all of his attempts to use his newfound powers to win over his dream girl results in him earning unwanted attention (and attraction) from a bullying jock (Milo Ventigila). And if you ever wondered what a golden retriever-werewolf mix would look like, this film is for you. Like all Wes Craven films, the horror is aptly noteworthy, but unlike most Craven films, the humor is main attraction of this werewolf flick, not unlike American Werewolf in London.

Unfortunately, Cursed runs out of gas during the third act, and it is the lack of fuel which keeps this movie from being counted among wolf hits like American Werewolf and The Howling. Right after the werewolf responsible for their transformation has been revealed and confronted, the filmmakers felt the need to toss in one more twist. However, in the last ten minutes, this twist feels more superfluous than suspenseful – especially since it has almost no bearing on the overall plot. Its a flat and unending climax – following what has to be one of the most memorable werewolf death scenes of all time – that costs Cursed much of its bite.

Still, Cursed is a great film for a werewolf fan to own, which is why its true Bargain Bin material. For its (mostly) unpretentious plot and bevy of celebrity cameos, Cursed is thoroughly enjoyable werewolf flick. What it lacks in bark and bite it more than makes up for with camp and cheese.

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