STUDIO: Dimension
MSRP: $29.99 RATED: Unrated
• Selected commentary by special effects supervisor Greg Nicotero and actor Derek Mears
• Making-of featurette
• Special effects featurette
• Editing featurette
• "Becoming a Werewolf" spoof documentary

Russ’s review of the theatrical cut

A good
horror movie is a cautionary tale, confronting the audience with hard lessons
while punishing its characters for failing to grasp those lessons. Don’t be a
heartless bastard, don’t have sex, don’t be a consumer whore, for example. Cursed,
whose difficult birth is a well-documented mess, ignores everything that makes
horror movies scary in its attempt to be ironic and self-referential. There are
no lessons to be learned, no scares to be had; just jump cues and bad
choreography, signifying nothing.

The Flick

ironic horror flick is sort of director Wes Craven’s domain, as founded in his Scream.
For Cursed,
he is once again teamed with Kevin Williamson, who has apparently had no new
ideas in the intervening nine years. Rather than making Cursed into Scream
, Williamson has, by his own admission, cribbed from Teen
and An American Werewolf in London. Don’t worry if the following
summary may sound uncannily familiar.

It’s a form of meditation.

Ricci plays Ellie, a young producer in
Hollywood. Jesse Eisenberg plays Jimmy, her
nerdy, high school age brother. One night, on their way home, a large creature
hits their car and forces them, on a hitherto deserted road, into another
vehicle. Shannon Elizabeth — not a defensive driver — is in this second car,
which goes tumbling down a hill into a deep dark studio lot made,
unconvincingly, to look like a forest.

Ellie and
Jimmy try to free poor Ms. Elizabeth, and get her most of the way unstuck
before a giant wolf mask seizes her by the neck and drags her away. Jimmy and
Ellie are caught in the ensuing struggle and end up each with their own
werewolf-induced wounds. Lycanthropy being a blood-borne disease, our heroes
are now on their slow spiral into madness. No, I take that back; it’s actually
quite a rapid spiral into madness, more like a firepole.

Here’s my
first non-snarky criticism of the film: the character of Jimmy revokes all
possibility of tension. It’s not just Jimmy, and it’s not just in this movie;
the character of the know-it-all nerd, the guy who can accurately explain the
supernatural, even if no one believes him, is the worst invention of the recent
horror genre. There have always been nerds in horror films, but they have been
annoying bastards who very quickly learn the lesson that you shouldn’t be so
damn smug. Now the nerds are the maligned heroes, the plot device for lazy
writers who don’t want to find a more subtle way to expose the terror of
whatever monster or curse inhabits the film.

keeping with this new tradition, Jimmy immediately goes to his computer upon
returning home and does a web search for vicious animal attacks, paying
particular attention to those that mention werewolves. There’s no fooling him;
that was no mask that ate Shannon Elizabeth.

The next
act focuses on Jimmy and Ellie slowly undergoing their transformations while
Jimmy tries desperately to get Ellie, the one-dimensional skeptic, to believe
his theories. There’s no depth to the relationship between Jimmy and Ellie; we
get a brief mention of their dead parents, followed up with Ellie exclaiming
how she’s trying to keep her brother safe, but that’s as far as we get. I’m a
firm believer that the audience becomes more sympathetically scared for the characters
when there’s actually a connection between the two sides of the screen. Cursed
makes no effort to deviate from archetypes, and we already know how those
interact, so there goes any tension that might be gleaned from that.

Now there’s no need for you to watch the movie.

makes two sources of tension removed: the nature of the beast, and the
character interaction. The next sort of tension that Cursed completely misses
is the technical sort: the pacing and the individual scenes of werewolf
carnage. These are given over to comedy due to laughably bad CG and a practical
wolf suit that looks like a man in a hairy suit, and walks as though he has
exactly the wrong sort of knees for the job. The music goes over the top when
it ought to be subtle or disappear completely, and the jump scares are telegraphed
a good minute in advance.

there’s nothing scary about Cursed. It’s billed as a reinvention
of the werewolf genre, somewhat of a spoof, which is a lot easier to buy than
labeling it a horror film. The problem with it being a spoof, no matter the
degree of irony, is that the expectations of the audience are all played in not off of. It’s like a sandbox of mediocrity, and not a grain falls
outside of the walls.

The first
of two showdowns between Ellie, Jimmy, and a werewolf is a jumble of choreography
cut to second-long snippets which is nevertheless fun to watch. The
groan-inducing method of dealing finally with the monster is the single moment
in the film that seems to know exactly what it was going for, and unfortunately
it goes for stupid humor that wouldn’t have been out of place in Scary
Movie 3

conclusion is unexciting and incomprehensible (how can Jimmy run on walls like
an escapee from The Exorcist 3?). There’s some nice gore effects and a eventual
beheading with a shovel, but the sequence is brought right back to the level
we’re used to by a glaringly bad CG-doctored shot of the severed head and then
an inexplicable self-immolation of the beast (self-cleaning werewolf; leaves
only the fresh scent of pine).

Did you know the human body’s supply of blood is compressed to seventy PSI?

leaves the worst taste after the show is over is the pretension. The impression
is that both Craven and Williamson were trying to recreate their earlier
success with Scream and managed to convince themselves that they did.
(Williamson’s brief comments in the making-of featurette will make you want to
shout at him.) Only Eisenberg looks as though he’s having fun at all, and he
gets saddled with playing the most annoying character. The others don’t have
the self-parodying tone necessary to pull off a spoof, while simultaneously not
taking themselves seriously enough to pull off any of the drama. This unrated
cut contributes nothing over the original theatrical cut; we get a few shots of
gore that were edited out to make the PG-13 rating, and nothing else of import.

Cursed is an utter waste of talent. I
hope the filmmakers learned their lesson from this horrible movie.

1.0 out of 10

The Look

in 2:40:1 widescreen. The transfer is clean and crisp so you can capture every
nuance of Christina Ricci’s perky smile. There’s a decent balance between day
and night shots, and there’s enough variety to keep things from looking too
boring. All the gore scenes take place in dimly-lit spaces, unfortunately, so
the blood looks like oil. There’s no sense of dread that comes across through
the cinematography; the angles are standard (and contribute enormously to the
abovementioned telegraphing of scares) and
Hollywood just looks like Hollywood. It’s serviceable but uncreative.

7.1 out of 10

Craig Kilborn’s finger is the luckiest man on Earth.

The Noise

Digital 5.1 surround. I already mentioned the music, but let me reiterate: it’s
appallingly inappropriate at times, working at cross-purposes to the intent of
the dialogue. The rest of the time it’s just forgettable. It always sounds
nice, though. The mix is a perfect balance and many of the sound effects are
given good, visceral thumps in the bass. The rear channels aren’t separated
often enough from the front channels for my taste; mostly they just fill in the
sound, rather than adding a directional component.

I also
noticed a couple sections of ADR that had just enough of a different quality
from the other dialogue in the scene to be jarring.

6.5 out of 10

The Goodies

There’s a
brief making-of featurette that describes the filmmakers’ intention to reinvent
the werewolf genre, but it sounds like marketing fluff. It’s a short
featurette, only about six minutes long, and doesn’t go into any detail.

featurette on the makeup and effects spends a lot of time discussing the
werewolf suit, with its creators patting themselves on the back for doing such
a great job. And, to be fair, it does make an imposing figure when it’s just
standing still, but the moment it moves it dispells all illusion of it being
anything other than a guy in a suit.

included is a short parody documentary written and directed by Jesse Eisenberg,
and it’s fun to watch. The conceit is that the best way to get the leads made
up as werewolves is to just have them bitten by real werewolves. The sacrifices
those stars make for our enjoyment, I tell ya.

editor of the film, Patrick Lussier, gets his own featurette to discuss the
editing of the action scenes. It’s nice to see a job that doesn’t get enough
respect from casual filmgoers be featured like this; it’s too bad that the
action editing in the film is so unappealing.

no feature-length commentary, but special effects supervisor Greg Nicotero and
actor Derek Mears (the guy in the werewolf suit) do selected commentary on four
scenes. They talk about how they pulled off certain stunt shots, and needlessly
point out which elements of the shots were CG. They also comment negatively on
the atrocious shapeshifting effects.

Not a lot
of new information in these brief extras, but they’re worth watching so that
one might better appreciate how much of a misfire the film is.

6.5 out of 10

We get it, already.

The Artwork

with the red border? I suppose it’s to draw attention to the fact that this is
an unrated disc. How long will it be before consumers cotton on to the fact
that "unrated" doesn’t necessarily mean "too hot for the

positioning of the "unrated" tag unbalances the whole shot, which was
already fairly unbalanced from the weird orientation of the floating heads. Not
awful, but not at all memorable.

4.0 out of 10

Overall 1.8 out of 10