Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Arrested Werewolf Development, or Thoughts on Christina Ricci in Cursed

 You know iconic horror director Wes Craven from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Scream (1996) franchise, but he was also the writer and director of The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and The Last House on the Left (1975).  He returned to the traditional horror genre with Cursed (2005), starring Christina Ricci As Ellie, the levelheaded big sister who gets bitten by a you know what. Jesse Eisenberg, in one of his first starring roles (he was also in The Village, 2004) plays the only character he ever plays, the sensitive and nerdy nice guy as Jimmy, Ellie’s younger brother.  He also gets bitten by the you know what, and how they react to their newfound curse becomes the basis for the entire film.
Both siblings benefit from the bites, more aggressive and more confident, at Elle’s work and Jesse’s Hollywood high school shark tank.  They also have heightened senses, quicker reflexes and increased animal attraction for humans and dogs alike.   And I have to admit, it’s emotionally satisfying to watch Jesse Eisenberg beat up the stereotypically homophobic high school bully who’s been terrorizing him for the first half of the movie.  (There’s a clever twist to that bully sub-plot, thanks to Wes Craven’s spot-on understanding of the teen psyche).
These are traditional Universal Monster werewolves with the mark of the beast on the palm and an allergy to silver.  The werewolves themselves are a mélange of practical effects and CGI, they are adequately hirsute and bestial but ultimately unconvincing as it’s hard to get an authentic response from an actor who’s looking at a green screen or a tennis ball on a stick.
Christina Ricci has made some fantastic genre movies, Sleepy Hollow (1999), obviously, but also the underrated After.Life (2009) and The Gathering (2003).  Horror movies, for better or for worse, always go for the low hanging fruit of the teen audience, and a PG-13 almost guarantees that punches will be pulled no matter who the director is.  Cursed remains an entertaining werewolf movie with the potential to be so much more; more blood, more gore, a little nudity and how about some actual cursing in a movie entitled Cursed?

Cursed also stars the wonderful Judy Greer from Arrested Development and Archer and features a cameo by Blum family member Portia De Rossi as Zela, the Gypsy fortune teller (there’s always a Gypsy fortune teller).  Also, Nick Offerman appears momentarily in one of his first big screen roles as a paramedic? Maybe a Forest Ranger?  He’s listed in the credits as “Officer”.   But he gets a couple lines with Christina and Jesse where he scoffs at their eyewitness account of a big wolf.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.