Available on Amazon Video
The Cursed is a supposed to be a supernatural thriller, as noted on some of the posters for the film in which the marketing team mistook the genre for the tagline. This sort of quality control is a sign of things to come I’m afraid. However this isn’t really a true reflection of the story material here, and most of it falls into the monster slasher category where a shadowy figure kills unsuspecting townsfolk late at night. This isn’t going to be a plot that has any great leaps in imagination unfortunately, either in terms of how things play out or how the writers use their Southern US location. They seem focused on going by the numbers and including as many horror and murder clichés as they can fit into the running time.
In a prelude set in 1968 we find out that sinister events are going on in Warren County, Tennessee, and a figure shrouded in darkness is prowling the woods. Backed by unseen forces and what seems to be a scary smoke machine, the entity has the appearance of a ghostly cloud at times, while in other moments is just a cloaked silhouette. This is all revealed straight away as it snatches a young girl from her mother, getting all that suspense and mystery nonsense out of the way as fast as possible. The intro credits roll and we’re treated to a few neat newspaper clippings, which at least provide a bit more creativity. It seems this has been going on since the American Civil War, but that’s probably just a coincidence.
Jumping forward to the present day we get straight into a new guy in town storyline with our hero Denny (Brad Thornton). He soon gets the standard unfriendly welcome from the local police to make sure we know he’ll be the first suspect for anything that goes awry, evidence be damned. He’s here to do some writing on local folklore, despite his family having left the place years ago and his last job being some sort of military researcher. This random detail doesn’t come into play at all later, so beyond attempts to add a layer of mystique it feels really out of place. As things progress he meets with other stock characters including a lonely librarian with a drunken father and stays over with his friend a pot smoking gun enthusiast. No prizes for guessing how all this turns out.
As things begin to run amok our local spook kills people in town and their cattle at random, despite this supposedly being linked to some sort of curse. The bodies vanish leaving only blood… except when they don’t for plot convenience. Domestic melodramas play out, forced romance is introduced, and Denny’s research reveals clues to recent events one beat after the next. Any kind of atmosphere or tension building is sapped away and the town history of missing people is repeated in scenes that show his book research, and then his internet research in redundant amounts of detail; the credits already showed this. It doesn’t help that every death is the same night time setup with more smoke and blurry fast motion visual effects. In places the creature’s face is clearly on show and it’s just a rubber mask with some kind of sea creature mouth stuck on, so any big reveal is out the window.
The acting here ranges from wooden to just plain bad whether it’s the angry locals who want vigilante justice for some reason, or the sheriff who goes around declaring that he’s ‘got a murder investigation to run’ in almost every scene. Despite no investigation going down. During the third act the unintentional comedy just piles up as it speeds towards a trite action climax. The old blind man who tells our lead characters what is going on is just terrible, and so is his old man make-up. Were there no older actors available? Serious chuckling began when he started talking about devil worshipping plantation owners, and it all goes down hill from there. Later a gun toting mob defies the police and try and hunt for the monster themselves. In a mind boggling scene they find a bloody high-vis jacket in the woods; and despite them all wearing identical outfits they can tell who it belongs to within seconds. Logic isn’t the strongest point here, if there was such a thing.
Who is cursed, what this curse involves and what the killer actually wants is never clear and at times it seems as though the explanations have been muddled up during writing. What does it do with the bodies? Why kill cattle instead of just people? If the curse is one family why kill the others at all? There are also weird ADR effects and in some causes possible post production censorship of bad language. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. In a film that includes someone saying his assault rifle fires bullets at Mach-20 and has our hero change into a police officer’s shirt for no reason… and then out of it again just to show his abs, questions are all pretty futile. The most bare bones attempt at filling out a horror plot has been attempted here, and it’s impossible to see what they were aiming for besides the most simplistic tropes. Save yourselves and skip this one.