Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Cursed" not terrible but don't expect classic Wes Craven

Cursed (2005) 
86 min., rated PG-13.
Grade: C

The horror-howler effort, "Cursed," is passingly entertaining cheese at best but ultimately a rare dud from the "Scream" team, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, literally “cursed” by heavy studio tinkering. With rewrites, reshoots, and reedits, all thanks to the money-grubbing Weinsteins, the declawed and defanged "Cursed" doesn't work on the same scary-funny level as "An American Werewolf in London" but it's not as lame as "Teen Wolf." Whereas "Scream" worked as a horror film and a self-aware spoof, "Cursed" is too predictably scripted and anonymously directed to be a fresh contemporary spin on the lycanthropic plot. 

Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci are good to see as Jake and Ellie, an orphaned pair of siblings, who after an auto accident on a full-moon night in the Hollywood hills are bitten and show signs of “the mark of the beast,” like heightened senses and giving off sensual attraction. Great Scott Baio, could it possibly be a w-w-werewolf? We have Joshua Jackson as Ricci's mysterious boyfriend, Judy Greer as a bitchy publicist, and Shannon Elizabeth and Mya as two screaming victims. 

This brief tongue-in-cheek horror pic offers up the once-and-only sight of Ricci sniffing around like a bloodhound and some amusing in-jokes (a grand-opening nightclub full of horror-movie wax figures and props). Also, Ricci's character is an assistant for the now-defunct “The Late Late Night Show with Craig Kilborn,” which just shows how dated the satire is, and with interviewee Scott Baio's publicist named Joannie, all we really get out of that one is the feeling that Williamson was a TV's “Happy Days” guy, since Henry "The Fonze" Winkler had a bit part as the principal in "Scream." But it's a weakling in the scare department, and it's never clear if the not-so-seamless combo of CGI and stuntman-in-a-suit for the wolfman is supposed to be intentionally schlocky or the contrary. For a teen-angst werewolf movie, seek out 2000's sharply written "Ginger Snaps."

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