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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

eFilmcritic Archive: "Cursed" (2005)

For too long now, the studios have been cutting the balls off the horror genre in order to make it possible for the young kids to gain admittance into PG-13 little-kid thrillers. Movies such as “The Grudge,” “The Ring,” “Boogeyman,” “Darkness” and “Alien vs. Predator” have been too light on the gore, too long on the boredom and too castrated for the hardcore. I know story comes first and none of that should matter, but it nevertheless reeks of blatant marketing strategies. Horror has never been about marketing to a demographic. It’s about delivering the goods to the fans. Sam Raimi delivers. Lions Gate delivers. Almost every zombie film in the past two years has delivered. And Wes Craven, dammit, SHOULD be able to deliver!

Instead we get a re-hash of every other PG-13-ized horror movie that’s come down the pike. Worse yet, it’s also a rehash of something Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson have done better three times over. “Cursed” is little more than a “Scream” movie that replaces the masked killer with hair and fangs. The movie doesn’t just cater to a studio’s idea of a key demographic, it represents a writer/director team trying to recapture a glory day long since past.

Christina Ricci plays the Neve Campbell role as Ellie, who lost both her parental units. Her younger brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) fills in for the Jamie Kennedy role as the know-it-all wiseass who can’t get a date. Portia de Rossi steps into the Courtney Cox role as a bitchy publicist who is just waiting to get her just desserts. Joshua Jackson plays the Liev Schreiber/Skeet Ulrich role as Ellie’s troubled boyfriend who fears commitment. Shannon Elizabeth shows up in the Drew Barrymore role as the wolf bait and Scott Baio fills in the Henry Winkler role as Scott Baio.

No surprise there to find another alumnus of “Happy Days,” since there seem to be more than a few sharks being jumped with this project. It’s so sad on so many levels. A waste-of-time script being given a by-the-numbers treatment from an A-list horror maestro. Okay, sure, Craven has made some bad movies before, but he hasn’t put anything out since “Scream 3” and it seems as though he’s stuck there. The movie depends on bad CGI effects for the werewolf transformation while relying on the most overused scare device of the past 20 years (silence—BOO!—everything’s okay). The only highlight comes when Milo Ventimiglia (Jess from “Gilmore Girls”) finally comes out of the closet.

No scares here, really. In fact, the powers-that-be in the editing room fear for our sensibilities so much that they actually cut to a black screen(!) while a werewolf enjoys its feast. I know, I know…”Jaws” was scary because you didn’t see the shark. That’s different. That creates suspense. This point has little to do with suspense. This has to do with no-holds-barred horror, something the head honchos at Dimension used to care about. Now, they’re after the approval of the MPAA so they can get more young butts in the seats. I say, let ‘em sneak in like I had to when I was a kid! Keep the R, you sissy-Marys!

So, maybe the PG-13-ification of horror is the least of this movie’s problems. It’s not interesting enough to hate and not hateful enough to loathe. Would it have helped if it had been gorier, sexier and nastier? Doubtful, but at least it would have had one less strike for pandering against it. As it is, it’s another stale nut cluster in a long line of canned, ball-less horror fiddle faddle. If you’re a fan of the genre and you’ve seen some of the movies I mentioned in the opening paragraph and you’re sick of it, you know exactly what to expect here. I have nothing more to say. I’m tired. I’m depressed. I’m going to bed.

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