Cursed (2005)
(Release Date: February 25, 2005)
(Premiere Date: November, 7 2004 [AFM premiere screenings])

Two and One Half... SCREAM FOUR!Two and One Half... SCREAM FOUR!1/2

Formulaic Werewolf Answer to Scream
Lightening Strikes once.

J.C. Mašek III... The Moonlight Critic!!!
J.C. Mašek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Director Wes Craven is really only as good as the material he has to work with. When it's good, you get an influential horror film like A Nightmare on Elm Street. When it's not-so-great, well... ever see Shocker: No More Mr. Nice Guy? For every The Hills Have Eyes, there's a Deadly Friend; for every arguably creative Wes Craven's New Nightmare there's an arguably forgettable Wes Craven's Wishmaster. But in 1996, a team-up with writer Kevin Williamson gave us Scream, an interesting horror-comedy filled with horror genre in-jokes, a big-name actress who gets gutted early, and some of the hottest T.V. actors of the day.

Is Scream a classic? Some say, yes, some say that it ruined horror for years to come. However, it did grant Craven and Williamson a veritable mint, two sequels, a TV Series for Williamson, and Music of the Heart for Craven. However, after TV's Glory Days was canceled too-soon, and Wes Craven failed to get another Music of the Heart under his belt, Craven, Williamson, and, of course, the Weinsteins hoped like Wishmasters that lightening might just strike twice and give us another Scream in the form of Cursed!

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No Nude Scene, guys!

Cursed is the familiar tale of a group of young people adjusting to the fact that they are slowly, but surely becoming Werewolves. To construct this interesting and horrifically comic tale filled with horror genre in-jokes we're given a (semi) big-name actress who gets gutted early and some of the hottest T.V. Actors of two years ago. So much of this feels by-the-numbers that I half-expected the Werewolf to start calling its victims on a Cell Phone and saying "I want to see what your insides look like!" Folks, this is Scream with a Werewolf substituted for a couple of angry teens... only Cursed has the added insult of a cameo by Scott Baio!

Christina Ricci's Ellie leads the cast as the no-nonsense Late Late Show producer taking care of her little brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) on her own. She balances her High-School Loser (never made it with a lady) brother with a booming, yet shaky career and a budding, if confusing, relationship with boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson). If that's not enough, she and Jimmy are soon bitten by a random Werewolf on Mulholland Drive, and now she has to deal with the "Curse of the Beast" too! And, hey, Tax Season's on the horizon. Damn!

From there we're given an inconsistent ride through the whole "Becoming a Werewolf" thing that is transparent to anyone who has viewed any of the Werewolf flicks that Williamson pilfers for plot, from The Wolf Man to Teen Wolf to Ginger Snaps! Sure, it's fun to see some of this, but you're not seeing it for the first time. A highlight, of course, is that Academy Award Winning Special Make-Up Effects Supervisor Rick Baker is on hand to bring us some of the coolest looking werewolves we've seen since An American Werewolf in London!

Cursed seems more interested in being the next Scream than it does in being consistent. The Werewolf Lore is picked and chosen from leading to an incongruous mythology from scene to scene. What's more, some of the many nods to popular horror (Jake is running a Classic Film Wax museum-cum-Nightclub) feel almost as forced as the intentionally sappy dialogue. Whereas Scream used these elements in a spoofing nature, Cursed comes across as that early cheese that's just waiting to be spoofed by a movie like Scream!

However, as much as I wanted to pan Cursed especially during the first half, the set up leads to a relatively fun and interesting, if derivitive and silly film. While there are a lot of people walking around with the Mark of the Beast, who the actual Big Bad Wolf is remains to be seen, and even I was surprised! Is it Michael Rosenbaum's badly Toupeed Kyle; could it be Portia de Rossi's sexy psychic Zela; how about Milo Ventimiglia's self-mocking Bo, or Baio's publicist named (no joke) Joanie (Judy Greer)? Are Craven and Williamson going for the twist-ending and giving us Shannon Elizabeth's Becky, Mya's Jenny or even Jake, Jimmy or Ellie themselves as the Villain? Or could they be going for the joke and giving us a Cameo Character like Scott Baio, Craig Kilborn or Lance Bass as our culprit? Hell, maybe it's none of these. I kept looking for the character with six boobies!

I thought I knew who it was, and when the answer was nigh I still didn't know.

But, also, to be honest, after a while I wasn't sure if I even cared. Cursed is calculated and derivative and even in its more fun moments it seems a little forced. The In-Jokes seem gratuitous (even the lights of L.A. form a Pentagram when viewed from Mulholland), the lines feel stale and the final act seems tacked-on for the sake of competing with those famous "Surprise Endings".

It's all fun, though, and there are some legitimate laughs. Still... It's nothing new so here's Two and One Half Stars out of Five for Cursed! Sink your Canines into that, and like it! So, until Williamson and Craven get together with Kristen Kruek, Alexis Bledel, Andy Richter, Traci Lords, Barbara Hershey, Mischa Barton and a quickly killed Jenny McCarthy to sculpt-out some Zombie movie, I'll see you in the next hairy-ass, fly-by-night reel!

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Cursed (2005) Reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
who is solely responsible for his views and for his desire to see more of Christina Ricci...
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No nudity, except two asses. Damn!
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