Sean Ellis’ chilling horror flick shows greed who’s boss.
I seriously doubt that both “Dog” and “The Cursed” will beat “Uncharted” at the weekend box office, because, as far as I’m concerned, big studios with major actors have their ways of overshadowing smaller films. “Uncharted” is released by Columbia Pictures, “Dog” is released by MGM, and “The Cursed” is released by LD Entertainment. And don’t act like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
The movie of this review is “The Cursed,” a horror period film, which as the recent “Scream” entry describes as “elevated horror.” Mainstream movie goers mostly run towards jumpscares or slashers then they would on independent horror films. It’s probably repetitive that I would bring it up, but I’ve seen box office numbers and I’ve heard reactions.
However, I’m faithful that people do have some taste and give these elevated horror movies a chance to give them the chills, like “The Babadook” or “Midsommar.” “The Cursed” is another well-acted and creepy example that doesn’t rely on the obligatory loudness or stupidity to pull its train. Yes, people scream and they have to go to forbidden places, but you’re still curious the movie’s direction.
The story is set in 19th century France, where a tribe of Gypsies are slaughtered by the men of land baron Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie). who decides to take property of their land. Two of the Gypsies have turned silver coins into denture teeth, which would deliver curses on to anyone bitten by them. The man has his hands and feet amputated and set as a scarecrow, and the woman is buried with the teeth under his cross.
His two children-Charlotte (Amelia Crouch) and Edward (Max Mackintosh)-and all of the town children have nightmares that lead them to this forbidden field. A jerky kid by the name of Timmy (Tommy Rodger) digs up the teeth, and under the possession, he bites Edward, who later disappears. Timmy ends up dead, and so Seamus recruits pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) to investigate both the murder and disappearance.
McBride eventually comes to the conclusion that Seamus’ family and settlement are being hunted by the spirits of the Gypsies his men murdered. Serves them right.
It’s not just the dentures they have to worry about, but also demon dogs, or whatever the Hell those things are, begin attacking people. Or maybe the people are getting transformed into them. When you’re the movie-goer, you can sense when people get bitten by otherworldly creatures, they’re screwed, especially when there start growing roots. At least I think those are roots.
Writer/director/producer/cinematographer Sean Ellis (“Anthropoid”) crafts a dark, moody tone to the horror and mystery of “The Cursed.” While it’s dark scenery makes select scenes dull, and I often complain that certain movies are too dark to see, there’s still enough complexity and beautify inside to stay in your seat. The first 10 minutes and the last 15 minutes really eases us into the story.
The performances are also levitating in the ways the characters are written with such complexity. Holbrook delivers quite well as a man who knows the real villains of demonic possessions, while overcoming his own loss. Kelly Reilly as Seamus’ more loving wife and young Amanda Crouch both have sentimentality and patience. And Petrie also has his attitude during his character’s greed and regrets.
I’m a film critic who sticks up for the little guy (meaning independent films), so I’m recommending “The Cursed” for its ability to chill us, and allowing us to acknowledge its characters and reality. It’s no match at this weekend’s box office, but if you crave art and quality, this is something to consider. I know I did.