A howlin' good time!
Updated: 02-25-2005

Is Cursed cursed? The Wes Craven werewolf flick starring Christina Ricci has been, er, dogged by disaster since it first started shooting (and had to be almost entirely re-shot with different actors taking on secondary roles) but unlike most movies that go through so many changes, this one’s come through with flying colors.


Reminiscent of 1980’s An American Werewolf in London, Cursed artfully blends comedy with horror. (Another thing both productions have in common is creature-creator, Rick Baker). This is a very fine line to tiptoe but if anyone can do it, Craven can. And so can screenwriter Kevin Williamson — despite some career missteps, you can’t take Scream away from him. Put those people together, along with the extremely talented Christina Ricci, and you’ve got a tail-wagging night out at the movies.


Ricci plays Ellie Hudson, a serious-minded talent booker for the Craig Kilborn talk show. She’s guardian to her nerdy teenage brother, Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg), and the two live a normal life in a quiet suburban neighborhood with their dog Zipper (Solar) and the loving memory of their departed parents.


Their lives are turned topsy-turvy one night when they’re driving home from Hollywood, along a dark canyon road. Ellie swerves to avoid hitting what looks like a dog darting across the street and collides with another car. The driver of the other vehicle (Shannon Elizabeth) goes flying off the embankment; unhurt, Ellie and Jimmy race from their car and try to help her. Just as they are succeeding to pull her free from the twisted wreck, a wild animal grabs the injured girl from the broken window. It wrenches her from the car and makes off with her, disappearing into the dark woods. Jimmy is convinced it was a wolf, while Ellie doesn’t know what she saw. As the events unfold and strange things start to happen, Jimmy becomes convinced that the animal was actually a werewolf and believes that it is now after him and his sister. They are cursed!


Although Cursed is not exactly a mystery, to say much more would require spoilers and I don’t want to wreck your fun. And “fun” is exactly what this movie is: It’s a rollicking popcorn flick, so don’t go in expecting Oscar material and you’ll enjoy yourself immensely. It’s got some genuine thrill/fear sequences that do get under your skin and won’t let go even after the credits have rolled (if you’ve driven to the theater and parked in a shadowy underground structure… Have fun walking back to your car!).


The cinematography (by Robert McLachlan, three-time nominee for the American Society of Cinematographers award for his stellar work on TV’s Millennium) is picture perfect, even when somewhat questionable moments of CGI are inserted. The soundtrack and original score blends in seamlessly with the action, and the makeup and costumes aid in the evolution of the characters without being overt.


Of all the mythical monsters, the werewolf is one of my least favorites. Although I do like An American Werewolf in London, Wolf, and Ginger Snaps, I went into this movie with some hesitation. I am relieved to report that Cursed, with not a horror hair out of place, joins the elite few of my “favorite” werewolf movies and is definitely on par with the above-mentioned modern classics. It’s one of the year’s most terrifying thrill rides!

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