A Craven ‘Curse,’ to say the least

By By Jenni Koehler

By Jenni Koehler

“Cursed”

Dimension Films, 2005

Directed by Wes Craven

Written by Kevin Williamson

Starring Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer

Opened Feb. 25, 2005

Rated PG-13, 96 minutes

18260;2 out of four stars

Werewolf movies-aside from the impeccable “American Werewolf in London”-usually suck, right? Well, “Cursed” is a nice change of pace-it utterly blows.

Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, the guys who brought us “Scream,” really slipped up here, taking what had the potential to be a genuinely scary movie and turning it into the most dismal, hackneyed, laugh-out-loud ridiculous horror flick to come out this year.

This film makes the entire “Chucky” series look like “Casablanca.”

It all starts when a sadly orphaned brother and sister (oh, cry me a river) accidentally hit something on their way home one night, and end up being mauled by an unidentified beast that Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg, making a departure from traditionally good roles in films like Sundance/Noah Baumbach’s “The Squid and the Whale”) is convinced was a werewolf. His strong-willed elder sis Ellie (Christina Ricci) didn’t see it, and stubbornly ignores his postulations.

Meanwhile, the pair undergo mysterious bodily and behavioral changes (the two movie stars “suddenly” become attractive to everyone, and proceed to develop an avaricious appetite for red meat), and the free-roaming creature continues to attack.

Things start to add up, and the two finally discover that they’ve been infected-cursed, if you will-with the werewolf disease. The only way to break the curse is to find and kill the werewolf who started all this, regardless of his or her identity.

Suffering from a variety of maladies, “Cursed” succeeds more at making the audience laugh than tremble. The plot is predictable, disjointed and anticlimactic, the special effects take effort to believe and the endless ineffective attempts to scare and startle just get old.

Complete with substandard performances by nearly the entire cast and an ending that could not possibly have been more asinine and trite, “Cursed” succeeds at nothing. Christina Ricci returns to the supernatural without gusto, delivering lines and reactions like she’s folding laundry. Joshua Jackson (Pacey from “Dawson’s Creek”) continues to play a popular idiot, in spite of the weight gain.

“Cursed’s” beacon of hope comes in the form of the messianic Jesse Eisenberg, who pulls off the nerdy, perpetually awkward underdog little brother remarkably well. He adds flair to the film and his transformation from shy, bumbling loser to confident, attractive hero is far more engaging to watch than the werewolf tearing to shreds a half-witted woman in a leopard suit.

Maybe I just don’t understand this genre, but it seems to me that “Cursed” lacks several key elements that constitute good werewolf-let alone horror-films. At the very least, there should have been one twist that we couldn’t see coming.

It seems that Craven and Williamson suffered some head trauma that caused them to confuse the horror movie and fairy tale genres. “Cursed” is an absolutely miserable failure, pumped full of cheesiness and banality. It ignores the horror rules, and its twists are far too foreseeable to result in fear of anything-except more clichs.

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