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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.82%
Worth A Look: 8.43%
Just Average: 18.07%
Pretty Crappy: 21.69%

7 reviews, 41 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"A film any director would be proud of, provided he was Uwe Boll"
1 stars

The fact that the new werewolf film “Cursed” is astonishingly awful probably won’t come as a surprise to many people; between the reports of massive script rewrites, wholesale recasting, a last-minute re-edit to reduce the gore to PG-13 levels and Dimension/Miramax choosing, after repeated postponements, to dump the film in theaters without any advance screenings, this is a film whose title is a peculiarly apt one. What is a surprise, however, is how incompetent it is in regards to the basic fundamentals of the craft of filmmaking. Although he reportedly had little to do with the final version, the film was directed by Wes Craven, generally regarded as one of the smarter and more effective creators of American horror films in the last quarter-century with works like “Last House on the Left,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream,” but you wouldn’t get any sense of that from this collection of barely coherent chunks of footage haphazardly thrown together. Let me put it this way–if you put this movie up against the works of Uwe Boll, the auteur of such dreck as “House of the Dead” and “Alone in the Dark,” you might be forced to regard Boll as the better director.

The production history of “Cursed” is so twisted and convoluted that it will no doubt one day inspire a fascinating magazine article or perhaps even an entire chapter in a book chronicling what happens when bad things happen to good filmmakers. According to the scuttlebutt floating around on the Internet, Craven had originally signed with Miramax to do an American remake of the Japanese horror film “Pulse.” A little over a month before production was to begin, the story goes, Miramax pulled the plug and Craven was induced to direct “Cursed,” based on a screenplay by “Scream” writer Kevin Williamson, instead. The shooting was plagued by script and production problems and, in a move that shocked Hollywood, the film went on hiatus in order to do major rewrites of the screenplay, necessitating the rumored re-shooting of nearly two-thirds of the footage already in the can. As a result of the rewrites and schedule changes, many actors who were originally supposed to appear in the film either had their roles reduced (such as Scott Baio–yes, Scott Baio–who apparently played a major part in an earlier version but who is basically reduced to a cameo in the final product) or their parts were either recast or dropped entirely. (Among the actors let go, who must know be thanking their lucky stars, were Mandy Moore, Skeet Ulrich, Omar Epps and Corey Feldman; the first two were replaced by Mya and Joshua Jackson.) Make-up genius Rick Baker was hired to provide the werewolf designs (as he did in his Oscar-winning work on “An American Werewolf in London”) but wound up quitting halfway through for mysterious reasons. When these changes still didn’t help, more re-shoots were ordered and Portia de Rossi, for one, was added in an attempt to make sense of things. Finally, after testing what was said to be a relatively gory version of the film, the studio heads, over Craven’s objections, decided to cut nearly all of the blood and violence in a cynical attempt to attract younger viewers with a PG-13 rating and an even-more-cynical attempt to woo gorehounds a few months later with the inevitable “Uncut!” DVD release.

What now passes for a story involves a pair of siblings (driven TV producer Christina Ricci and wimpy high-schooler Jesse Eisenberg) who run Shannon Elizabeth off the road while swerving to avoid something jumping out at their car. While trying to rescue her, some enormous animal attacks, scratching them up before dragging Elizabeth to her death. Of course, they were attacked by a werewolf and the two find themselves demonstrating strange new powers; Ricci can smell out a bloody nose from across the office while Eisenberg is now able to get even with the school bullies. While trying to uncover what happened, they run across an all-but-random assortment of scenes involving a pushy publicist (Judy Greer), a sweet teen queen (Kristina Anapau), a weirdo nightclub owner (Jackson), a gay-bashing high-schooler with a not-so-shocking secret (Milo Ventimigila) and, I fear, Craig Kilborn. (Just to give an idea of how long this film has been gestating, Kilborn still has his talk show here)

The problem with “Cursed” is not that it suffered from a tortured production history; plenty of other films have suffered enormous production woes and have gone on to be decent films. The problem is that even someone with no prior knowledge of these events will be able to determine within a couple of minutes that something is seriously off. Even if you didn’t know ahead of time that the film underwent massive reshoots, the most technically ignorant viewers will quickly pick up on the number of bizarre gaffes that are the inevitable result of trying to splice together scenes that were never designed to match; there is one conversation between Joshua Jackson and Ricci that is so haphazardly put together that even Ed Wood would have taken another pass at it. For additional fun, keep track on the wild fluctuations in weight and hairstyles that Ricci goes through during the film, which is supposed to take place over the course of a couple of days. For budding directors, “Cursed” may prove to be a valuable film in the way that it demonstrates the importance of competent editing by displaying the utter lack of same.

The other problem is that it never becomes clear what Craven and Williamson are trying to do in the first place. At times, it seems as if they are trying to do a hip take on werewolf films as they did with slasher movies in “Scream”, but their attempts pale in comparison to such works as “An American Werewolf in London” or “The Howling”. At other points, they seem to be exploring teen angst using lycanthropy as a metaphor, but only wind up ripping off the vastly superior “Ginger Snaps,” not to mention any number of episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”. Even the plot thread in which the feral world of office politics begin to draw real blood was done more intelligently in the otherwise dire “Wolf”. As a result, the cast flounders along, never knowing if they are supposed to be playing things straight or with a smirk and wind up just looking foolish. Ricci, in particular, is disappointing in a role that should have been a slam-dunk for her adorabale-weirdo personality; as it is, if you want to see her crawling around on the floor and howling in anguish in the middle of a long-delayed Miramax release, you should wait another month and catch “Prozac Nation” on cable.

The technical aspects are also surprisingly terrible. Although there are a few shots of a werewolf outfit that are adequate, it quickly becomes obvious that most of the footage of the creature is of a thoroughly unconvincing CGI beast that doesn’t even look like the outfit. (Frankly, the most hideous creature on display here is a wax dummy of Cher.) Even if the make-up effects had been good, they would have been spoiled by the edits that not only remove the blood and guts, but completely destroy the rhythms of those scenes to such a degree that it is impossible to figure out what is going on. Even seemingly simple tricks fall flat here; there is a scene where Eisenberg is supposed to terrify some dogs with an unexpected howl, but I can only assume that the animals were frightened away by the lousy Foley work.

There may be worse movies than “Cursed” but I can’t recall many that have wasted as much time, talent and energy as this one has with so few results in the end. What is even more surprising that the studio chose to waste so much money in a doomed effort to patch it together even though it must have been clear from the first days of shooting that no amount of post-production glaze could overcome its inherent flaws. Everyone involved with this film has done far better work in the past and will continue to do far better work in the future (yes, even Scott Baio). This will hopefully just serve as a blip on their resumes that they will mention only when they need to make some kind of self-deprecating remarks about their careers. Maybe a few years from now, the survivors can be rounded up to do a DVD commentary where they talk frankly about what really happened during the production. The result could be the first time that I can recall where a bonus feature could provide more nightmare fuel than the film itself.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11767&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/25/05 06:03:12
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell ok 3 stars
8/13/11 mr.mike OK 3 stars
6/17/11 art A NEAT horror FILM! 4 stars
1/29/10 Dane Youssef Williamson and Craven reunite again. But you wish they hadn't bothered. Campy. Never scary. 1 stars
12/29/06 William Goss Frankly, I expected worse. Moments of humor and gore almost make this watchable. 2 stars
12/04/06 Stanley Thai You may be thinking a really bad PG-13 horror film...you're wrong. It's a fun movie! 4 stars
7/09/06 Jim Wow, I didn't think it was as bad as all that ... but it was late and I was sleepy. 4 stars
2/04/06 Shawn Gadberry Such a waste of time and talent... What happened, guys? 3 stars
1/18/06 Nicholas Sheldon Poor Kevin Williamson. What happened buddy? You should have never done WASTELAND. 1 stars
12/23/05 Michele cute 3 stars
12/22/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Horror movie? I thought is was a Comedy? 2 stars
12/21/05 Ethan Wouldn't Scare My 2 Year Old Cousin! 1 stars
11/24/05 shaun wallner this movie was more funny then scary 3 stars
8/22/05 S Davis We all know Craven and Williamson could have done MUCH BETTER! It's like they didn't care. 1 stars
8/20/05 Michael Armocida Movie sucked 1 stars
8/16/05 ES Watched Cujo= loved it. watched the Cursed= hated it. Why do you think that was? 1 stars
7/06/05 Cedric More humor than horror 3 stars
6/24/05 FunkyMunky Since when do werewolves flip people off??? 2 stars
4/25/05 E-FUNK It's moving images of fecal matter. This movie was so fucking bad that I can't get over it. 1 stars
4/19/05 The Lurchprong Splitter More coherent than average horror. To bad Shannon Elizabeth reduced to bit part. 4 stars
3/25/05 Greg Ursic The title pretty much says it all... 1 stars
3/12/05 maxomai Campy, didn't make me think at all. Perfect. 5 stars
3/08/05 pepperann224 wes craven has lost his touch. 2 stars
3/05/05 Roy Smith Ms Greer is loveliness personified. The movie blah. 3 stars
3/04/05 ss A great 5 stars
3/03/05 jeff the movie was ruined when the wolfman actually showed a finger!!! 3 stars
3/02/05 michael weber cough.... horan what is wrong man u know becuase you r the man horan so come over and play 5 stars
3/01/05 baby_girl it was okay but I could've done something else with my time 2 stars
2/28/05 Tyrantis Crappy, but really enjoyable. Like a Godzilla movie. 3 stars
2/28/05 Burg Spackleman Joshua Jackson is awesome, Judy Greer's hot, Ricci is cool. Poorly written but campy fun 4 stars
2/28/05 Me A great film 5 stars
2/28/05 Ian Went for Christina Ricci in action,that alone was worth the admission- two times over 4 stars
2/27/05 Usul MARK is mistaking "kicks" for "licks" 1 stars
2/27/05 MARK 'Cursed kicks bootie!" 4 stars
2/26/05 elsie absolutely atrocious! 1 stars
2/26/05 Pete Holy Moly 1 stars
2/26/05 Chris Why Is Wes Craven Doing This To His Name? He Used To Make Scary Movies? Not Stuff Like This 1 stars
2/25/05 Theresa Wagner Waste of money 2 stars
2/25/05 Naka Don't tell me you expected scares and entertainment from a WES CRAVEN movie. 1 stars
2/25/05 mott the drupal scott baio vs. rob schneider = winning combo 1 stars
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  25-Feb-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Apr-2011



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