When it comes to horror movies the werewolf has always been treated like the vampires ugly stepsister, where the vampire is most often portrayed as a suave, mysterious, and charismatic creatures of the night, while the werewolf is usually just a slobbering monster that will either tear out your throat or maybe piddle on your carpet. When you’re turned into a wolf you don’t get to spout lines like, “Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” At most, a werewolf gets to growl and howl at the moon a lot. So you are not going to get Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt type actors clamoring for these types of roles, instead, you get B-list movie actors, or in the case of Cursed you also get refugees from Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls.
The number of good werewolf films can probably be counted on one hand; for every Howling and An American Werewolf in London, you have to wade through a lot of cinematic cheese like Teen Wolf, Underworld, and Van Helsing, which brings us now to Wes Craven’s foray into the genre and Cursed. Once again teamed with writer Kevin Williamson, who he collaborated with on Scream, these two men trot out every cliché and stereotype in the book and guess what ladies and gentlemen the end result is a movie that never once takes itself seriously and is a helluva lot of fun.
The film starts with two gorgeous women, Jenny (Mya) and Becky (Shannon Elizabeth), wandering the midway of a local fairground when Mya spots a gypsy fortune teller and she wants to find out if Shannon’s love interest is ever going to call again, but instead of getting a bunch of expected hokum about their true loves they are both told their future is full of BLOOD!
Meanwhile, Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg), our film’s standard school nerd, is making moves on the typical school princess though nice is dating the school jock/asshole (Milo Ventimiglia), a typical teen trope that needs to be stopped. We then jump to Jimmy’s sister Ellie (Christina Rici) who is having relationship problems of her own with Jake (Joshua Jackson), a seemingly nice guy who appears to have commitment problems, and things get even more interesting when the asshole jock admits to being gay and that seems interested in Jimmy.
Later Ellie picks up her brother and its while driving home that things take a turn for the worst. Something big and hairy bounces off their windshield and their car careens out of control, sideswipes another vehicle and sends that one off the road and down a wooded embankment. Trapped in the car is Becky, and she is a little freaked out because she smells gas and is afraid the car may explode…if only she were so lucky. Just as Jimmy and Ellie are about to get her free something hairy, with a whole mess of teeth, grabs her and drags her into the woods. The brother and sister try in vain to save the girl but are only rewarded with bites of their own.
For those of you who have seen the Jack Nicholson film Wolf you won’t be surprised that our two leads start developing some new characteristics; they become more confident, their senses are heightened as well as increased strength and agility. The brother, being a geek, quickly figures out that it was a werewolf that bit them and that they’ve been cursed, which means it’s only a matter of time before they start sprouting hair in unwanted places.
The film has a lot of fun with the genre, much in the way Craven and Williamson had fun with the Scream, but the film isn’t really frightening and only provides you with the occasional jump scare, yet it is still very entertaining with few nice story turns and many good laughs. My only real complaint would be the lack of the rules given to us; in every vampire or werewolf film it is important for the audience to know which rules from the canon of monster film history that are going to apply in this one; in An American Werewolf in London the change was triggered by the full moon, and silver wasn’t needed just plain old lead bullets was fine, while in the Howling you could change into your bestial form at will and at any time but silver was required to dispatch the beast. In Cursed both the moon and silver are mentioned but silver doesn’t kill the creature it only hurts it, and apparently, the werewolf can change back in forth from its furry form to human as long as it’s during a full moon. How that actually works is never really addressed, and wouldn’t have been all that hard, but that’s just nitpicking at what is basically a “Check Brain at Door” type of horror/comedy, and if you go into the theater with the right mindset you should have a good time.
A fun film with a good bite.