THE CURSED (2010)

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Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , ,

Available now on Amazon Video

The Cursed is a supposed to be a supernatural thriller as noted on some of the posters for the film, on which the marketing team mistook the genre for the tag-line. This sort of quality control is a sign of things to come unfortunately. However this isn’t really a true reflection of the story material since 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 of imagination I’m afraid, in terms of how things play out or how the writers use their Southern US location. They seem far too focused on going by the numbers and including as many clichés as they can fit into the running time.

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A prelude suggests that sinister events are afoot in Warren County, Tennessee. The year is 1968 and a figure shrouded in darkness is prowling the woods. Shrouded by unseen forces (and a really spooky smoke machine) the entity has the appearance of a ghostly cloud in some shots, while at times it’s just a cloaked silhouette. This is all revealed straight away when it snatches a young girl from her mother. Why have any suspense when you can dissolve all that mystery nonsense as fast as possible? The intro credits at least offer some creativity as a series of newspaper clippings fill out the back story. It seems this has been going on since the American Civil War, but surely that’s just a coincidence?

Jumping forward to the present day our hero Denny (Brad Thornton) is the new guy in town and gets the standard unfriendly welcome from the local police. They make sure we know he’ll be the first suspect for anything that goes awry whether they have proof or not. His family decided to leave this place years ago but he’s back to do some writing on local folklore. Although strangely in his last job he was some sort of military researcher. Just don’t expect this random detail to come into play at all later, any attempts to add a layer of mystique just feel out of place. As things progress he meets with other stock characters including a lonely librarian with a drunken father. He catches up with an old friend who enjoys smoking pot and shooting guns. No prizes for guessing how all this turns out.

Soon things heat up as our local ghoul kills several random people in town as well as some cattle. This is supposedly linked to a curse but there’s no obvious connection. Sometimes the bodies vanish leaving only blood… and sometimes they don’t when it’s inconvenient. Domestic melodramas play out, forced romance is introduced, and Denny’s research throws up a series of clues. But any kind of atmosphere or suspense is absent since the town’s history of missing people was already shown during the opening credits. It doesn’t help that every death is the same night time setup with yet more smoke and a lot of blurry visual effects. Sometimes the creature’s face is clearly shown and it’s just a rubber mask which robs the narrative of any sort of third act reveal.

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During all of this the acting is all pretty wooden, whether it’s the angry locals who want vigilante justice (for some reason) or the sheriff who declares that he’s ‘got a murder investigation to run’ in almost every scene. No sort of investigation actually takes place. An old blind man who tells our lead characters what is going on is the worst performance, and his old man make-up is laughable. Were there no older actors available? There are more laughs in store when he starts talking about devil worshipping plantation owners and it all goes down hill from there.

During the finale this kind of unintentional comedy continues as it all speeds towards a trite action climax. Towards the end a gun toting mob defies the police so they can hunt for the monster themselves. In a mind boggling scene they find a bloodied reflective jacket in the woods and somehow they can tell who owned it within seconds. Despite them all wearing identical outfits. Character logic isn’t the strongest element here if there is such a thing in this  shambles. The rest of the narrative raises even more questions. Who is cursed? What does the curse involve? What does the killer actually want? What does it do with the bodies? Why kill the cattle? If the curse is linked to one family why kill the others at all?

There are few answers available and at times it seems as though the explanations have been muddled up during the writing. There are also several weird dubbing effects which don’t help make things clear. In some causes it may be a case of post production censorship due to bad language. In one scene our hero change into a police officer’s shirt for no reason… and then changes out of it again just to show his abs. In another someone claims that his assault rifle fires bullets at ‘Mach Twenty’. It’s a pretty spare attempt at writing a horror story with a series of tropes and little else that makes any sense. Maybe that’s the biggest curse of all, the one being placed on the viewer. Save yourselves and skip this one.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

About Mocata 121 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, world cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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