Cursed: Unrated Version
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Roger Nicholl (4th July 2005).
The Film

Cursed, to put it mildly, went through production problems. There were rewrites, re-shoots, cast replacements, and then the film was edited to get a PG-13 rating. Luckily the version I saw was the unrated version, but that didnít help in any of the other areas. The film does, surprisingly, make sense. It just isnít very good.
There was the re-teaming of the creative forces behind the Scream series, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. A similar tone is gone for here, but itís a tone that was fresh and interesting around the time the first Scream came out in 1996. This, along with the fact that Cursed isnít as well written as Scream, makes it seem like a teen TV show with a werewolf chucked in the middle.
The opening scene of the film seems to beg the viewer not to take this movie seriously. Shannon Elizabeth and Mya are walking though a carnival and stop to get their fortunes read by a gypsy played by Portia de Rossi. I felt sorry for Wes, what could any director do with this? Being a horror film, the gypsy of course predicts death. This comes when brother and sister Ellie (Christina Ricci) and Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) crash into her car.
Ricci seems to be both over-qualified and ill-suited to the role of Ellie. Sheís, I guess, supposed to be a mix of hard career woman and tragically cursed victim. She doesnít come across like that, but she could have at least shown up and played Christina Ricci. Ellie works for The Late Late Show withCraig Kilborn, and has to rendezvous with actorís publicists amongst her other duties. One notably annoying is Scott BaioĎs publicist, Joanie (Judy Greer). Annoying, both for her and for us, as Scott and Joanie refuse to go away (though to Baioís credit, he doesnít seem like he wants to be in this movie).
Jimmy, isn't as cool as his sister, he's a pathetic high school geek who gets picked on by the captain of the wrestling team, Bo (Milo Ventimiglia), and his slack-jawed friends. Jesse Eisenberg is pretty likeable in a standard horror dork role. Thereís also Jake (Joshua Jackson), Ellie's boyfriend, whoís opening a horror movie-themed nightclub, which seems to exist solely for the purpose of in-jokes and stalking scenes.
Back to that car crash, it isnít the crash that kills Shannon Elizabeth. Before Ellie and Jimmy can get her out of the wreck a werewolf eats her, and then infects Ellie and Jimmy. The rest of the movie thus involves Ellie and Jimmy working out theyíre werewolves, being chased by werewolves, wanting to kill the main werewolf, and sorting out their love lives.
During their tedious journey of discovery several weird things help to undermine the movie. Late in the game the werewolf goes from being a snarling beast, to having a personality and giving people the finger. And, despite Rick Baker being credited as responsible for creature design, the werewolf looks a lot worse than the one he created twenty years earlier for An American Werewolf in London (though he probably canít be blamed for the student project-level CGI transformation). Then thereís the fact that we seem to be told straight out that one character is not the main werewolf, only to have the film carry on as if we donít know this then try to spring a twist on us.
Cursed is generic enough story-wise that it needed to be clever, but itís not clever enough to save it from being forgettable. A bunch of trendy people get chased around, several empty jokes and remarks are made. Scott Baio appears as himself in a pointless role (which was originally shot by Corey Feldman (who wasnít playing Scott Baio, by the way)). Itís not the train wreck some people want it to be, itís just another film to throw on the forgettable horror movie land fill.

Video

Presented in the filmís original 2.40:1 widescreen ratio, this anamorphic transfer is very good. Which youíd expect from a fairly recent film, the image is sharp and crystal clear, colors are represented very well, especially skin tones. I found no traces of color bleed at all, blacks and shadow detail hold up well considering a lot of this film takes place at night. Overall, I found that this transfer is about as perfect as you can get.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included on this release, an English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack. The dialogue is very clear and distortion free, the track makes very good use of its 5.1 sound space and suits the filmís tone and creates a very eerie atmosphere. The sound separation is precise and nothing feels out of place, and the music is mixed very well into this track coming on strong at times but never gets in the way of any dialogue. The mix is quite loud so prepare to get a few complaints from the neighbors. Overall, this is a strong soundtrack that suits the film exceptionally well and compliments the filmís image transfer beautifully.
Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

The first extra youíll find on this disc is the first of four featurettes, entitled Behind the Fangs: The Making of Cursed runs for 7 minutes 33 seconds and is a standard EPK piece with the actors and key crew patting each otherís backs. They also touch on the genre and what the filmmakers are trying to achieve with this film as well as touch briefly on key sequences in the film, the fight scenes, stunt work (mainly about the guy in the wolf suit) and you also learn that on a Wes Craven film too much blood is never enough. Overall the piece is brief but covers quite a bit of ground but never goes into any real detail.

The second featurette is entitled The Cursed Effects which runs for 6 minutes 45 seconds and covers, you guessed it the special effects in this film. KNB effects guru Greg Nicotero takes us through the techniques employed to create the Werewolf, which is a combination of a stunt man in a suit and a CGI Werewolf. He also discusses how the effects were created for the car crash scene where Shannon Elizabeth is basically a legless stump and the dream sequence where Joshua Jackson gets bitten.

Next up is the third featurette entitled Creature Editing 101 running in at 5 minutes 32 seconds this piece is presented by film editor Patric Lussier, who takes us through the editing process, and how an editor can manipulate the story and feel of a film. He also highlights the difficulty in cutting between the CGI Werewolf and the man in the suit version and selling the scene (personally I think they used the CGI Werewolf a little too much and showed far to much of the beast for it to actually be scary). Finally Lussier also highlights the difficulties in editing the PG-13 theatrical release as apposed to Craven's Unrated version available on DVD.

The fourth and final featurette is a video diary entitled Becoming a Werewolf and runs for 7 minutes 57 seconds. This segment features Greg Nicotero and actor Jesse Eisenberg trying very hard to be funny while telling the viewer how an actor gets transformed into a Werewolf. Although some very little nuggets of information are laid throughout this piece, it never really goes anywhere. It seems like a misguided video segment thatís part mockumentary and part instructional video on how to create Werewolf make-up but forgets the latter part altogether.

Following the featurettes is a scene-specific audio commentary track by special effects/makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero and actor/stunt man Derek Mears. The scenes that feature commentary are:
- Car Wreak, Beckyís Death
- Parking Garage
- Tinsel
- Final Fight

There is a Play All function or you can choose to view the scenes individually, as expected the commentary is quite technical at times and they discuss the various effects, costumes and make-up applications as well as the stunt work required to sell the shot. Overall quite informative and occasionally funny, but this a feature-length commentary with the director would have made for a welcomed addition.

Rounding out the extras is a series of bonus trailers for Sin City, Scary Movie 3.5, Prozac Nation, Hostage, Wes Craven Presents Dracula III: Legacy and a Dimension Home Video spot. The first four trailers play prior to the menu and can be skipped by pressing the menu button.

Overall

Cursed is a forgettable Werewolf movie that tries to be smart and funny, but ends up falling flat. It has some interesting enough moments throughout the film and the occasional cool effects (some just look a little silly or too CG). Check it out as a rental but youíd have to be a huge fan of Cravenís to buy this. The DVD includes a polished image transfer and a nice 5.1 surround track. The extras are a little thin and brief but cover quite a bit of ground.

The Film: C- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: C+ Overall: B

 


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