Director: David Freyne
Starring: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley & Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Rating: 15 Duration: 95 minutes Release date: 14 May (UK)
There is an over familiarity with the zombie genre now. What was once a niche sub-genre full of talented directors looking to make a name for themselves, now sees itself devouring popular culture like some sort of voodoo curse placed upon the film going public.
Set after a zombie outbreak, The Cured follows those who have survived these events and those who were infected at the time and now try to live a normal life, all the while living with the memories of what they did. It’s not an entirely unique viewpoint, and has been done previously in the BBC drama In the Flesh. Likewise, that took the action to a small town in England while small town ideologies took over. Ellen Page plays a bereaved young mother who must cope with her returning brother-in-law (Sam Keeley) who has kept a dark secret from her. All the while a militant faction of “cured” grow frustrated at their public perception and treatment.
I know this will make me sound old, and not particularly cool, but I grew up watching zombie films. To me there was something pure and unsettling about the dead returning to life. What is more terrifying than seeing a recently deceased relative, friend or lover ambling their way towards you with no other intent than to devour your brains? Films like Romero’s Dead trilogy are still the apex of the genre for me, made at a time when social and political tensions were high and formed a tight narrative backdrop to those films. Later, Return of the Living Dead showed that zombie films can be sprinkled with humour and still work. While more modern films like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later made zombies cool again, at a time when the slow, meandering dead were deemed a pop culture dud. Now, with films like Shaun of the Dead and TV’s The Walking Dead the zombie genre has become a behemoth unrecognisable from its early days.
Quite where that leaves The Cured is unclear. While it is a smart film packed with the type of political undercurrent that George A. Romero would be proud of, it is likely to get swept along with the tide and be forgotten by everyone but the dedicated few. Set among the backdrop of Ireland is a smart move, as the countries various troubles over the years serve as a reference point to the films various plot points. Riots, social and racial distrust and an overbearing energy of fear only adding to the tension.
Director David Freyne has some nice ideas here and attempts to play to the films strengths, but doesn’t gain enough traction during the films 95 minute duration to make the film an enjoyable whole. It’s unsettling, but never truly scary and has a few too many false scares thrown in. Ellen Page seems oddly cast in the role of the grieving wife and doesn’t form a truly effective relationship with Sam Keeley, who on the other hand puts in one of the films strongest performances. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor plays the films protagonist, and even though his ideals are not entirely agreeable, there is an empathy in his undertakings.
There are nice ideas here, and some play out better than others. The idea to make a “smart” horror film is all well and good, but it must remain entertaining in the process. Sadly, The Cured doesn’t break any new ground and likely be forgotten as the genre moves ever forward.