A lot of times horror films either go all out on the supernatural or all out on the gore.
Directed by Sean Ellis, ‘The Cursed’ gives viewers a good amount of both. Starring Boyd Holbrook, Kelly Reilly and Alistair Petrie, ‘The Cursed’ is set in France during the late 1800s.
“A once-peaceful remote country village is under attack — but by who or what, no one knows. Villagers spread rumors of a cursed land, supernatural forces, and even demonic creatures, as the disappearances and killings continue. Pathologist John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) arrives to investigate the danger, only to discover something much deeper and more sinister than he ever could have imagined.” This was the excerpt sent to me in the press release.
The remote country village is also haunted by the decisions of those who live on the land. But was the land actually theirs to begin with? The patriarch of the main family has some dark secrets he’s kept hidden from his family.
The timeline of the movie jumps around a bit. It starts 35 years in the future, and jumps back in time about 5 minutes into the movie.
I mentioned above that the film is back supernatural and gory. That gore starts in the first few minutes. Soldiers get mowed down by enemy bullets on the battlefield, and you’re taken to a medical tent which shows limbs chopped off, blood spewing out of bodies, and more.
You then get introduced to one of the main characters in the film, Charlotte, who at this time is a grown woman. It appears she’s visiting a dying man, but you’re unsure who he is. Quickly after, Charlotte seems to drift back in time to when she was a child, and then comes practically the rest of the movie.
The story is set in France, but everyone speaks in plain English. There are French undertones, like the main family’s last name being the Laurents.
The village is on solid farm land, or so it seems. It’s a quiet community, and the main family appears to have a lot of money. With barns filled with horses and the main home filled with servants, it seems the harrowing tales of slaughter have come to past.
To keep the land, Seamus Laurent, the father, orders his men to kill a group of gypsies. The gypsies have legitimate claims to the land and the men figure the only way to defeat those claims…. is to brutally murder them all. It’s a horrific scene of burning, shooting, and screaming but it ends even creepier than it began.
The crew decides to take an interesting artistic decision by not showing the close-ups of the killing, but instead showing it from the fields above the campground and letting the scene play out.
After the murderous ransack, some of the men find the leaders of the gypsy group. It’s an older woman and a younger man. They drag the man off, tie him to posts, cut off his limbs, and literally make him a scarecrow. Remember, I said this would be gory. They then put a sack over his head and raise him into the sky. This scarecrow will end up haunting every single character for the rest of the movie, but we’ll get back to that.
They also decide to bury the woman, who is seen as a witch. She has a mysterious box filled with silver fangs. These fangs, when put in someone’s mouth, possess them and make them blood thirsty. The gypsies claim the silver in the fangs came from the 30 silver coins given to Judas to betray Jesus.
Later in the film, the village children end up finding the scarecrow and the buried fangs. Once you open the box, it’s like a spell. It draws you in, and similarly to the Ring in Lord of the Rings, you want to put the fangs on. One of the boys does so, and then chaos ensues. He attacks the Laurent’s son, Edward, and bites him on the neck. You see part of his skin rip off, which was honestly startling and surprising to me. We’ll get back to that later.
After all the kids run away, Edward comes home and is badly injured/sick. He gets help from a doctor, but never gets better. Turns out, that night, Edward runs out of the home and isn’t seen again (until the end of the film).
Soon after, you find the child who attacked Edward in a field. He gets attacked by some “animal” and runs into the woods to safety. He finds himself an abandoned cabin and hides in there. The “animal” finds him and mauls him. Later on in the film, you see his mauled body and it is very gruesome.
This animal turns out to be some sort of demonic “werewolf,” but it’s not the kind of werewolf you’d imagine. It has no hair at all. It’s silver, similar to the coins, but is pretty terrifying. The werewolfs don’t go down too easily, except with a bullet to the head. But there is one other way, but we’ll save that tidbit of info for the ending.
The hardest part about defeating the werewolves is that they spread like a virus. If one attacks you and injures you, you become infected, and then turn into one.
The middle of the film is all about different people being attacked and going missing. There are creepy scenes in the woods and in fields where the crew uses fog to their advantage to make the scene that much scarier.
McBride has some pretty good luck killing these things, and he has a good reason to want them dead. Before he came to this village to help find the missing children, his wife & kid were killed by (what’s eluded to be) one of these creatures in another town. So vengeance is on his mind.
Fast forward to about 2/3 of the way through the movie. One of the servant girls is outside the home doing laundry.
One thing about horror films, if there’s ever a clothesline, something creepy is going to happen.
And that’s just what The Cursed delivered. The servant was attacked by one of these monsters, but the build up of the attack is what made the scene so good. She is able to escape, which looking back at the movie now, I think is actually the plan of these werewolves. Sure, they could kill you pretty easily, but the whole purpose of them is to curse the town. They want to give payback to the people who stole the land from the gypsies. So increasing their numbers is the strategic decision that gets made.
The family notices something is off about the girl, but she plays it off that she’s okay. That night, you see her feeling very ill in her bedroom, and then you notice she soon will be cursed.
How you know someone is becoming possessed/cursed, or whatever you want to call it, is that things start to come out of their bodies. It starts by the neck, and it almost looks like tree branches are coming out. But I think it’s more like werewolf skin than anything else.
One of the greatest scenes in the movie is towards the end, when the fight gets brought to the Laurents’ home. Not only do the werewolves infiltrate the house, but a fire also gets started, causing smoke to spread through.
In these scenes, you see a few of the main characters die. While this is a review, I don’t want to ruin that for you, so I’ll let you watch the movie to find out.
You do find out more about the biology of the werewolves, too. McBride seems to have killed a werewolf, so they put the creature on a table to examine it. Cue the gore once again. He cuts into the insides of the beast, and in there he finds the servant girl, still breathing and moving. But she’s not the same anymore.
She’s still possessed and out to kill. Sadly, her father is the one to put a bullet in her head, and it’s a very emotional scene.
Another great scene comes minutes later.
Imagine the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones. This time, in a French church filled with villagers scared for their lives. Earlier on, the McBride the pathologist told everyone to barricade in the church while he attempted to hunt the werewolves.
Just like what happens in many other horror movies, when you keep everyone in one place, all hell breaks loose. And this time it’s in the holiest place in the town.
They keep the werewolves out for awhile, but then the Laurents’ mother hears her son Edward’s voice. He calls to her outside of the church to let him in.
You think, how in the world is this possible? This kid should be dead or a werewolf by now. Well, he is. And his werewolf body tears through the church, mauling people left and right and tossing people around like rag dolls.
Before the big hunt, McBride learns the history of the gypsies and their land and how the fangs came to be. He was told the story about Judas getting the 30 silver coins and that they were turned into fangs. He asked for a blacksmith, and melted the silver fangs into silver bullets.
One shot was all it took to take Edward’s werewolf body down, sadly, his mother was attempting to hug him while all of this was happening. She believed her son was still alive in there, and she wanted to bring him out. This was very foolish of her, because her son’s werewolf ended up tearing into her neck. The silver bullet went through the mother’s back and into the werewolf, killing her but cleansing him.
While the regular bullets kill the werewolf, the silver bullets turn them back into humans. You get a touching scene of Edward coming back to life and hugging his mother while she dies.
The story ends back where it begins. The last scene of the “35 years before” timeline is John McBride telling Edward and Charlotte they are going to come live with him and be his children. Then it switches back to “present-day” and showcases an older Charlotte next to what appears to be a dying John McBride.
You also have to remember the beginning of the movie to understand the end. In the beginning, you see the man get a silver bullet taken out of his stomach. At the end of the movie, I realized that man was Edward. Also look closely at the beginning and you’ll see Edward, Charlotte, and John in a picture frame on the mantle. This gets shown at the end as a “gotcha” moment.
If you’re a horror fan with a strong stomach, I would highly recommend seeing this movie. I think the movie SHOULD do very well in theaters and streaming, but we will see how marketing played out over the past year or so to get the word out there.
The acting is strong and I love the creepiness the 1800s village provides.
The crew did a great job at utilizing the environment around them to bring the scenes to life. Fire, smoke, fog, and the woods are main ways you’ll notice this point.
As I said, it is very gory, and I was a little taken aback that we saw one child get brutally attacked and another dead in the cabin. I always thought there was an unwritten rule of not showing that kind of thing, but who knows. The supernatural aspect is also a strong part of the film, but if supernatural horror films really bother you, I don’t think this one will do that. I think the fact the beasts are werewolves help out with that thinking. Instead of being a ghost or a demonic presence, the in-person threat seems more acceptable for those movie watchers who get really spooked out by the supernatural.
I’d give the movie a solid 7.5 out of 10. The only things that weren’t perfect for me was that the werewolves didn’t seem as menacing as they could have been. Sure, they were scary, but they were also pretty killable. But the terrifying aspect of gore and supernatural in the Cursed proved for it to be a great start to the horror film genre in 2022. The film featured a good mix of jump scares and built suspense scenes.
Deadline reports the film debuted at the Sunland Film Festival in 2021.
The movie is set in the late 1800s. So you’ll have the farmland vibe and weapons will be knives, muskets, and torches.
I received the Screener link courtesy of LD Entertainment. It opens theatrically February 18th.
The first showing at AMC Grand Prairie in Peoria is actually Thursday, 2/17 at 7:00 p.m. As of 2/9/2022, the movie has a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. This seems fitting to me.