christina ricci, jesse eisenberg, joshua jackson, judy greer, Kevin Williamson, lycanthrope, shannon elizabeth, Werewolf, Wes Craven
Wes Craven: The Scream years part 5 – Cursed (2005)
What should have been a dream project for Wes Craven outside of his involvement in the Scream franchise, combining once again with his writing partner Kevin Williamson would end up being something of a nightmare by the time of its theatrical release.
Boosting its potential recipe for success was a high-hitting young talent to draw in the crowds, with Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg playing the siblings and our lead protagonists, ably supported by Joshua Jackson and Judy Greer.
Chief among the downfall of this werewolf flick was a case of the producers muddying the waters of creativity by insisting on making numerous changes to the script and the production, including ditching creature feature effects by the hands of the late great Rick Baker, and implanting computer generated imagery into the fold. I might be biased in this category, as I’m a huge fan of make-up prosthetics and man-made creature effects, but the CGI here is incredibly dated and looks woefully bad looking back 17 years after it had initially hit screens.
The dialogue is incredibly clunky now and it’s evident upon viewing that a lot of changes have been made to the script as it jars in several places, throwing the viewer out of the picture.
There were reshoots upon reshoots upon reshoots, as the powerhouse company kept demanding changes, proving to be one colossal headache for Craven. Supposedly these original cut versions still exist but whether they will see the light of day or be subjected to the darkness remains to be seen.
For now the version we got sees siblings Ellie (Ricci) and Jimmy (Eisenberg) at odds with one another, their relationship stifled growing up together under the cloud of their parents death. Their bond becomes stronger though when they are involved in a car accident when they are attacked by a creature. The creature we learn later is a lycanthrope, and Ellie and Jimmy go about their separate ways to uncover the truth behind the attack with a whodunnit style approach to their amatuer sleuthing before we reach the reveal and the climax of the movie.
Cursed suffers under the weight of mis-managed production but there is still life in the movie, not to be completely dismissed or left for dead. The film contains flickers of a pulse (ironic as the American remake of Pulse was initially going to be a Craven project, before he was pulled into making this movie instead) and there are moments where the Williamson humour is allowed to surface. It would have been so cool to have seen Craven’s initial vision, but unfortunately it would suffer a similar fate to A Vampire in Brooklyn, where the trust in Craven is quashed. Maybe he should have steered clear of the Gothic-style inspirations and kept carving out his own macabre musings, but when the wind forces you in one direction, you have no choice but to bow. A great shame.
- Saul Muerte
Retrospective: Vampire in Brooklyn
Retrospective: Scream 2 (1997)