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John’s Horror Corner: Cursed (2005)

January 10, 2013

MY CALL:  Put basically, if Cruel Intentions (1999) was a werewolf movie…one of Wes Craven’s finer bubble gum horror outings.  There’s a whole lotta’ dumb in this flick, but it’s all in good fun.  [C+]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Easy.  An American Werewolf in Paris (1997) is the perfect follow up to this, though a little more fun-loving at times and generally intentionally funny.  While something of a remake of An American Werewolf in London (1981), Paris is more with the times and has more similar plot and character elements.  Also, perhaps the Scy-Fy network show Being Human (2011-2013).

Jenny (Mya) and Becky (Scream Queen Shannon Elizabeth; Night of the Demons, Thirteen Ghosts) visit a sexy fortune teller (Portia de Rossi; Mockingbird Lane, Nip/Tuck) who divines a rather unfortunate palm reading for these girls.  They’re in “danger.”  Way to rip on the classics!

Straight out of the I Know What You Did Last Summer playbook, Ellie (Christina Ricci; AfterLife, Sleepy Hollow) and Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg; Zombieland, The Village) lose control of their car after hitting a “dog or something” and accidently run a car off the road and down a cliff in the woods during a full moon—it’s always a full moon when people die isn’t it?  Poor Shannon Elizabeth.  Before she had time to exchange insurance information she was dragged to her death by a big bad wolf just like that surprisingly cute gypsy said.

“You think she’s gonna’ be okay?”

Scratched during the encounter, Eisenberg goes all modern day Teen Wolf and does some Google research on werewolves to learn more about his possible fate.  When he wakes up naked on the front lawn the next morning, we know it’s official.  We have ourselves an awkward teen werewolf.  Ricci, also scathed from the event, now has violent dreams and heightened senses.  That’s two new to the pack.

Ricci works with Kyle (Michael Rosenbaum; Urban Legend, Smallville) and a very catty Joanie (Judy Greer; Carrie, The Village).  Also, Ricci’s dating Jake (Joshua Jackson; Shutter, Urban Legend, Fringe).  It’s all very relationship-y; people need space, have unrealistic crushes, and consult oracles about boyfriend commitment issues.  Despite that, and much more to my delight, gorgeous women get slaughtered in this flick.

You cannot escape the Cruel Intentions vibe.  You have the parentless brother and sister werewolves which, adding to the werewolf mythos, have a preternatural sexual allure.  Love interests, flirting and cattiness abound.  Joshua Jackson is in it.  And, like its classic Wolfman counterpart, we stick to tradition with the silver handled cane, the mark of the beast, pentacles, more silver, meat cravings, and unnerved dogs.  They cover the classic bases.  There’s even a scene where they’re discussing werewolves in front of a wax werewolf representing the classic Wolfman.

The gore is nice.  But what stands out is the “fun” factor of this flick.  We see Shannon Elizabeth’s upper half crawl away from her lower half, gaping neck wounds, and a sloppy decapitation.  Like Freddy, our werewolf does the scratchy claw thing to drum up fear.  We even have a “werewolf dog” and a wall-crawling teen with new powers and a new edgy haircut he shows off for the girls like Tobey MacGuire.  This all ends in a cheesy bro-hug from his high school nemesis and then he gets the girl.  Pretty much a happy ending.

 Sorry, Shannon.  You’re beyond help at this point.

EFFECTS:  Van Helsing (2004) came out at about the same time and has a notably superior werewolf of entirely CGI.  In Cursed they were going for the same overall look (about 7’ and 350+ lbs-ish) and speed, but used a guy in a suit most of the time.  Except, of course, for the transformations scene which were hardly cool, interesting or acceptable.  Didn’t matter much, though.  Actresses, mid-catfight and shit-talking, hardly needs a top-notch transformation for me to be happy with their scenes.

In defense of Shannon Elizabeth:  Why doesn’t this beautiful, capable actress get more work?  You can tell me that she was annoying in Cursed but hey, reality check, she was playing a twentysomething who was willing to consult a carnival fortune teller for relationship advice.  I’m pretty sure any such girl would be “annoying.”  So, it sounds to me like she did her job perfectly.  Oh, she didn’t “wow” you?  Well just what about that role was suggestive that she would?

Kudos to Jesse Eisenberg:  Between this and Zombieland, he has made it possible for awkwardly skinny Jewish kids to survive horror movies.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. VJ Long permalink
    January 10, 2013 12:47 pm

    Jesse Eisenberg got me thinking. How many prominent male actors have survived the either nerdy baggy clothed or muscular tight clothed horror role? John, I think we might have a spin off of Tank Top Horror on our hands…this could be worth looking into.


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