Letting the Wolf Out in The Cursed

25 Feb

The Cursed movie review & film summary (2022) | Roger EbertNow Playing
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To put a unique spin on the classic werewolf legend is hard. Thankfully, writer director Sean Ellis succeeds in giving The Cursed (also known as Eight for Silver in other markets) a layer not so frequently explored. He opens the story during the Great War–to which he’s no doubt making an analogy of–and flashes back to a longer tale about why a certain individual has become seemingly immortal.

The look of 19th century France is beautifully recreated, and there’s a certain parlour of gloom foreshadowing the later acts. To say it’s a Gothic tale doesn’t reveal much. To suggest how it’s like E.A. Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher hints at more, concerning a family legacy. This film deals with how brother and sister are doing their best, especially when burdened by the sins of their father in their continued life….

Instead of a straightforward narrative, we have one which introduces us to a seemingly random soldier. He’s wounded, and after three bullets are pulled out, there’s a mystery why a cone shaped silver piece exists within his body. We have to assume this individual is an older version of Edward (Max Mackintosh), to whom we flashback upon.

But the story doesn’t focus on him. It’s seen from a third person perspective and it reveals how the Laurent family is in shambles. Seamus (Alistair Petrie) isn’t the ideal husband or father-figure. His inability to smile says it all. When he notices gipsies have set up camp on the lowland, that’s enough to establish the ill-gotten decision he makes. He wants them gone, and orders his lackeys to kill them. One is mutilated. But before the matriarch of this Roma clan gets suffocated by being buried alive, she curses the baron (hence the American title). His children face the ultimate punishment. They have nightmares.

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Not even John McBride (Boyd Holbrook) fully realises what’s going on. He’s sort of like the priest in The Exorcist where he thrown into this situation almost akin to The Wicker Man. At least he has science to help. Everyone in the nearby village is suffering from a plague and this pathologist is thrust into a situation to which he has to help. Children are disappearing. This mystery is gives this film the pacing it needs to uncover what’s going on, but ultimately, I knew how it’d all end.

As Charlotte and Edward Laurent (Amelia Crouch and Max Mackintosh) are being tormented by the supernatural, the dream-like sequences really up the scares, and we get glimpses of the “werewolf.” This creature’s look took getting used to, but I love it. It’s neither like the classic The Wolfman or American Werewolf in London. At other times, what’s featured gets inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing and it’s genuinely morbid. Even without the shapechanger motif, this film gets better with the scarecrow delivering the scares. It’s far creepier than the wolf.

To know that Hellhounds are knocking at Seamus’ door defines this film, and to know he’s not going to easily let them in delivers the best bits. But as for whether Edward becomes a Wandering Jew, that’s uncertain. I’d need to rewatch the film again to acertain if that’s what being cursed is all about. The religious themes aren’t the highlight with this work. Instead, it’s about the aristocracy versus the common man.

4 Stars out of 5

One Response to “Letting the Wolf Out in The Cursed”

  1. nscovell 2022-02-25 at 12:17 pm #

    I thought it was an ok film. Kind of boring and the color is so gray that the imagery is left kind of lacking. I always say that a movie that is gray needs more style and tone to it, kind of like Tim Burton can do to it or even The Wolfman remake.

    I thought the Judas silver was a pretty stupid thing as well.

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