Rating 2

Directed by Wes Craven

Written by Kevin Williamson

Starring Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer, Michael Rosenbaum and Portia de Rossi

Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson got back together six years after their collaboration on the first two ‘Scream’ films to make this werewolf horror. There were numerous delays because of problems with the script and production and several actors left the project along the way – including Skeet Ulrich, Mandy Moore, Robert Forster and Corey Feldman. Numerous cuts were made to the final film to ensure a PG13 rating and it was eventually released into American cinemas in March 2005 to generally poor reviews.

Christina Ricci plays Ellie, an assistant on the Craig Kilborn late-night chat show. She also looks after her teenage brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg), both parents having died in an accident. Jimmy is routinely bullied at school. One night they are involved in an automobile accident on a lonely stretch of Mulholland Drive and while trying to help the driver of the other car they witness her being dragged off into the woods and ripped to pieces by a huge wolf-like creature. Both Ellie and Jimmy are injured in the attack and afterwards they begin to exhibit changes. Jimmy is convinced they are the victims of a werewolf attack and are now themselves turning into werewolves.

Strange killings begin to occur as Ellie and Jimmy search for answers. Suspects include Jake (Joshua Jackson), Ellie’s commitment-phobic, womanising boyfriend; Kyle (Michael Rosenbaum), Ellie’s friend and co-worker; and Joanie (Judy Greer), a bitchy publicist. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s sudden heightened senses and increase in physical strength allows him to defeat three bullies in a wrestling contest at school and out his main nemesis as gay.

The film never seems to decide if it wants to be a straightforward werewolf story or a parody/homage in the style of ‘Scream’ and largely fails on both counts. The story seems to be a metaphor for Aids, not that it ever manages to make its point with any great precision. There are some nice touches, but these are somewhat few and far between.

The werewolf genre is a rather tired beast these days and the shadow of the 1981 John Landis classic ‘An American Werewolf in London’ hangs heavy over it. ‘Cursed’ pales into insignificance by comparison. It is, in fact, no match for the wonderful Canadian werewolf horror ‘Ginger Snaps’ or even the hugely enjoyable and inventive Doctor Who episode ‘Tooth and Claw’, which sees Queen Victoria do battle with an intergalactic werewolf!

The acting is by and large no more than adequate. Joshua Jackson is certainly not at his best here and Christina Ricci gives every impression she is just going through the motions. Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson are capable of much better than this and it would appear the many production problems they suffered along the way got the better of them in the end.

A disappointment.

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