The Cursed (2021)
the cursed | sean ellis | boyd holbrook | kelly reilly | alistair petrie | werewolf | werewolves | curse | monster | creature | fantasy | mystery | period piece | united states | roxane duran | nigel betts | stuart bowman | simon kunz | amelia crouch | max mackintosh
Film: The Cursed
Director: Sean Ellis
Writer: Sean Ellis
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly and Alistair Petrie
This is a movie that I got turned on to thanks to Marknado. He was championing this most of the last year, as I believe he caught this at a film festival. Regardless, it went on my radar. I saw that it was coming to the Gateway Film Center, so I made it a point to catch this one. I’ve also given it a second watch as I keep up with my 2022 rewatches.
Synopsis: in rural 19th-century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride (Boyd Holbrook), a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger – and exorcise his own demons in the process.
We start this one during World War I. As our synopsis states, we are in France. We are seeing soldiers in a trench and dealing with mustard gas. One of them is wounded and taken to a field surgeon. Bullets are removed and one is tricky to take out. It is made of what looks to be pure silver. The movie then shifts us to a large house where a woman arrives. It then goes into the past.
The family that is the basis of who we are following live in a mansion on an estate. The patriarch is Seamus Laurent (Alistair Petrie). His wife is Isabelle (Kelly Reilly). They have two children, Charlotte (Amelia Crouch) and Edward (Max Mackintosh). They also have house cleaners and butlers that oversee their needs. At this point, they’re a happy and loving family.
Things take a turn when a group of Romani people arrive on a plot of land nearby. They know that the nearby village is going to cause them trouble so their leader requests that the silver be used. She is played by Pascale Becouze. We see a blacksmith then heat up these coins and fashion them into teeth. They’re placed into a jawbone. The issue is that this group has settled on land that Seamus and other elders of the area claim ownership. It is considered shared land. The Romani people seem to have a legitimate claim to it though. A dark plan is set forth with mercenaries that kill them and bury the bodies. They take trophies in the process.
Charlotte and Edward then start to have a nightmare about a scarecrow in a field. We know what this truly is. They dig at the foot of the cross to find a box with the silver teeth. They’re not the only ones having this nightmare either. One of their friends, Timmy (Tommy Rodger) learned from overhearing his father about what happened with the Romani people. These children go out there and dig up the box. In the process, Timmy bites Edward on the neck.
It should also be noted that John McBride arrives at a nearby inn. He is a pathologist and this draws the attention of Alfred Moliere (Nigel Betts). He questions why he is there and John replies with a question. He wants to know if there have been Romani people in the area. Word gets to them about Edward. The doctor originally thought it was an infected bite from an animal. When the boy disappears, the family fears the worse. This fear grows as attacks from a wild beast in the area. It is thought to be by a wolf. John believes it could be something much worse.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap as I don’t want to go into spoilers. I also think that does enough to introduce our characters. Where I’ll start is something I haven’t officially came out and said, but if you’ve seen the poster, I think you get an idea of what the creature is. We are getting a different take on the werewolf mythology. The vibes I was getting in the beginning was that of the original The Wolf Man. We have these Romani people that know about this creature. Being a werewolf involves a curse, normally. I like that we have John who is an expert of sorts on it. His backstory explains that.
This is also doing something a bit different as I was saying. We aren’t getting a werewolf in the sense that during the full moon, whoever is cursed changes. I won’t spoil what we are getting, but just know there is a large, beastly creature that is roaming the woods. It is also out for revenge. This is a bit of a Romani curse as I was saying as well. John doesn’t think it will stop until that revenge is fulfilled. I liked what we are getting with this, especially known folklore with their own ideas.
Now this did remind me of another movie, Brotherhood of the Wolf. I’m not completely sure, but I believe this movie is referencing the true events that happened there. If that is what they were doing, I love it. That is based in historical fact about a creature attacking people over a decent length of time. John’s backstory is intertwined with what happened there and he helped to put a stop to that animal. Going along with this idea, we are getting the concept of the ‘sins of the father being visited upon the children’. This worked well for me too. You could even say that we’re getting a bit of commentary on the rich and them not wanting to face consequences. Seamus won’t take responsibility for what happened and his family is in dangerous because of it. I can appreciate this being explored.
Then last part of the story I want to go into would be the creature itself. I’m also going to go into the effects here as well. As I was saying, we are getting a variation on the werewolf. We are getting shared dreams of everyone in the area. I like that this curse won’t go away, as far as John knows, until all those involved are punished. How the curse starts is fitting. It is also sad if you think about it. The look of the creature is also not traditional. It is creepy. If I have an issue, not all the CGI there worked. Overall, I was still positive with what they did in bringing this to life. Since I’m here, I will say that I like the blood we get and the aftermath of attacks. They went practical as much as they could and those effects were good. I was impressed there.
Where I’ll then go would be the acting. I thought that Holbrook was good in his role. To harken back to Brotherhood of the Wolf, he reminds me of the lead there. This guy knows a bit about what is happening. He isn’t afraid to call people out as he works on his past demons as well. I thought that performance worked well. Reilly and Petrie were good as the parents. The latter is a villain in my eyes and I love that aspect. Crouch and Mackintosh were as well as their children. I liked seeing Betts here. The rest of the villagers were solid. I’d give credit to Becouze along with all the gypsies in the movie too. The acting overall was good across the board.
That will then take me to the cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, it was good. They brought this period this is set to life. It adds a layer of fear due to the weapons they have. It is also a time where people would believe in the curse that we are getting. Not everyone, but it questions faith. Something I don’t think that works was the stuff in the future. I understand what they’re doing. I don’t think of it as a spoiler, but I also don’t need it. Another thing was where this was set. I just assumed in Ireland or the United Kingdom. Revenant Vin over on the Horrorcast pointed out that they say it is France. Looking back at the synopsis, that it is what it said as well. I knew the World War I stuff was there, but it didn’t connect that the rest was as well. Not a huge deal but doesn’t make a lot of sense either. As for the soundtrack, it fit for what was needed. What I like is that when things are normal, Charlotte and Edward are singing. When their world is falling apart, we see the characters are as well. It brought good emotion for sure.
In conclusion, I like that this is taking a subgenre with established lore and doing something different with it. We get an interesting story. Coupling it with the events and then going into the past intrigued me as well. The acting is good. I would say that the how this was shot and the soundtrack were as well. The effects of attacks were good and I like the look of the creature. There was only a time or two where the CGI wasn’t great, but we are only getting glimpses so I can be forgiving. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It is one that is high on my list for the year. I’m glad I revisited this one as well.
My Rating: 8 out of 10