Dir. Wes Craven, 2005
I wanted to try and delve deeper into the late Wes Craven’s filmography this month. I tried Deadly Blessing but couldn’t finish it so I watched Cursed, a likeable film that comes across surprisingly flat. The film is the non-Scream collaboration between Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, and while the film does have its share of film and pop culture references (Scott Baio and Craig Kilborn play themselves), they don’t bring enough transgressive energy to the genre as the references did in the first 2 Scream films.
The film is about two siblings (Ricci and Eisenberg) who hit a werewolf, which then attacks them. The film is about their attempt to come to terms with their new found powers, which could have been more interesting than it was, and then in the third act they try to find and kill the werewolf (it’s obvious who it is the entire time but the film pretends that it isn’t) that turned them so that they can go back to being normal.
Perhaps the difficulty that they run into in this is that the werewolf film has a different relationship to its subtext than the slasher film in that the werewolf film makes its themes about social taboo and sexual awakening quite explicit (The Beast Must Die and I Was a Teenage Werewolf are two noteworthy examples). Or that the most famous werewolf films, An American Werewolf in London and Teen Wolf, are in essentially parodies of the werewolf genre itself. So, as Cursed tries to combine its werewolf story with the sexual awakening of its two characters, and a non-werewolf character who comes out of the closet, the whole exercise feels kind of obvious. In addition, the dialogue feels rather stilted (and Joshua Jackson and Christian Ricci, two actors who can be great in the right roles, feel rather stiff here) and the whole High School subplot feels anachronistic, like the script was meant to be made in the 1980s. That said, part of the fun of this film is that it feels like a time capsule from 2004; it opens with a performance of Bowling for Soup covering “Little Red Riding Hood.” The cast is full of like-able people (Portia Di Rossi Judy Greer, Jesse Eisenberg, a short appearance by Nick Offerman) that the film remains watchable, but ultimately the whole experience is rather underwhelming.