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Dimension Films presents

Cursed: Unrated Version (2005)

Jimmy: It was more like a werewolf, anyway, and I found this website last night and according to legend, a werewolf feeds during the lunar cycle—that's the three nights around the full moon. Last night was the first night of the lunar cycle.
Ellie: Why can't you just download porn like other teenage boys?- Jesse Eisenberg, Christina Ricci

Stars: Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson, Judy Greer
Other Stars: Portia De Rossi, Mya, Shannon Elizabeth, Solar, Kristina Anapau, Milo Ventimiglia, Derek Mears, Scott Baio, Craig Kilborn
Director: Wes Craven

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence/gore, language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:11s
Release Date: 2005-06-21
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- DB-C- C


DVD Review

Reports of production problems on Wes Craven's werewolf movie made their way through multiple entertainment news outlets. The re-teaming of director Craven with his Scream series writer, Kevin Williamson, had much promise, especially with the talented Mandy Moore cast in the movie. However, at some time during shooting the entire production came to a halt. Major personnel overhauls ensued, a new script was reportedly written, and Craven resumed shooting. As a result, Mandy Moore's career got Saved! and Christina Ricci's got Cursed.

The original theatrical version received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA and failed to scare up any box office buzz. Count me as one of those horror fans who elected not to attend any screenings of a PG-13 werewolf movie. Really, what's the point? If there isn't going to be a ton of carnage, why bother making the movie in the first place? Well, clearly the unrated DVD release of Cursed shows that director Craven had every intention of delivering the guts to his audience, but the studio wanted a more market-friendly movie. The only problem is that no market would welcome this garbage, regardless of its blood quotient.

Nerdy teenager Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) and his older sister, Ellie (Christina Ricci), are orphans living together. Ellie is starting a relationship with the elusive Jake (Joshua Jackson) and it appears that the once wild man will settle down with his new maiden until one fateful night. Driving home together, Jimmy and Ellie hit an animal, which caused them to veer into the other lane and run an oncoming car off the road. The other driver, Becky (Shannon Elizabeth), is seriously injured but none of that compares to what happens next, when the inevitable werewolf attack rips Becky in half and the two siblings become infected due to scratches from the skirmish. Before long, things start going bump in the night, hair grows in weird places, silver irritates the pair, and Jimmy quickly figures out that they are marked by the curse of the beast.

Of course much of what is shown is meant to be funny, but the audience is likely to be laughing at the movie, not with it. Who can seriously go along with a movie where a seemingly intelligent high school student heads home after a terrible car wreck and grisly mauling and searches the internet immediately for werewolf information? If only this was the most ludicrous behavior here, but each character acts without any understandable motivation. On one level this is good, because it makes it impossible to predict what happens next. Hell, I wouldn't have been surprised if Scott Baio or Craig Kilborn (both of whom play cameos of themselves) turned out to be the true werewolf—at least that would have been entertaining. Unfortunately, the inane behavior of the characters—such as Jimmy turning to his sister's new boyfriend for help on his werewolf theory or Ellie's catfights with Mr. Baio's publicist, Joannie, played by Judy Greer)—never cement the story in reality, which is a necessary component in making such a movie truly frightening. Honestly, Williamson's script is beyond repair from a script doctor, it needs an exorcist.

The overall feeling I had watching this movie was one of embarrassment. Wes Craven once had the ability to entertain and thrill his audience, but his talents have faded and all we are left with now is a repeating of old tricks (watch out! somebody is sneaking up from out of frame where the audience can't see them, but the character clearly can) that will scare only the gullible child who has never seen a horror film before. Composed of some of the worse CGI effects you'll ever see and makeup/prosthetics that seems no better than Rick Baker's work on An American Werewolf in London, the werewolf is not in the least bit intimidating and the "surprising" reveal of who it is only serves to make an already pathetic villain more pathetic.

Yet, it is the actors who I feel the most embarrassed for, since their performances clearly display their disinterest with the material. Ricci's line readings would easily put the audience to sleep, but the sound effects are so loud that it is impossible for one to get off the hook that easily. Even worse is a subplot consisting of Jimmy and the school bully, Bo (Milo Ventimiglia), in which the two actors actually seem repulsed by their homophobic dialogue. When Hollywood turns out tripe like Cursed, which is only the most recent in a dismal line of werewolf movies (excluding Mike Nichols' Wolf), perhaps we should all take it as a sign that it's time to put this puppy to sleep.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 2.40:1 widescreen transfer is adequate, but there's a slight softness to the image during some daytime scenes. Night scenes look good, however, with respectable contrast and mostly solid blacks. Nonetheless, it's a fairly unimpressive transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has a lot going on in it, but the dialogue is often undermixed and difficult to make out (I'm still debating whether that's a strength or weakness). The sound effects do engage the whole range of the sound system, but are a bit too much and eventually fall into being little more than idle noise. If the mixers had been a bit meeker, this could've been a fun listen. There's also a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track available.

Audio Transfer Grade: C- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Sin City DVD, Scary Movie 3.5: The Unrated Cut DVD, Prozac Nation DVD, Hostage DVD
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Greg Nicotero, Derek Mears
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:03m:54s

Extra Extras:
  1. Becoming a Werewolf—a short comedy by actor Jesse Eisenberg chronicling his own transformation from a mere human being into a werewolf.
Extras Review: Just as the movie feels forced, so do the extras. Advertisements for Sin City, Scary Movie 3.5: The Unrated Cut, Prozac Nation, and Hostage DVDs may actually be the only thing worth looking at here. The first featurette, Behind the Fangs: The Making of Cursed (07m:33s), is a publicity tool in which the cast and crew talk about the joy of making the picture. The efforts by the actors to sell the movie may be the best acting on the entire DVD. Wes Craven is noticeably absent in the interviews, I guess he didn't feel like lying to the public.

Following that is the featurette The Cursed Effects (and yes, those effects are definitely cursed). Clocking in at 6m:45s, the only positive thing I'll say about this extra is that it's short. That's also the only good thing about the third featurette, Creature Editing 101 (05m:32s). Consisting of an interview with the film editor, Patrick Lussier, there's a brief mentioning of the PG-13 and unrated versions of the movie. Unfortunately, we don't get a sampling of the cuts made for the theatrical version, so it's really a pointless review. Not nearly as pointless, however, as the short movie Becoming a Werewolf (07m:57s), in which actor Jesse Eisenberg and the makeup supervisors do a self-reflexive comedy about how an actor transforms from himself into the werewolf. It's dreadfully awful.

Concluding the special features on this DVD is a scene-specific commentary by special effects makeup supervisor Greg Nicotero and actor Derek Mears (he played the werewolf). The selected scenes can be viewed either individually or together, though the play all function on my disc doesn't include the first scene, Car Wreck/Becky Dies, for some odd reason. The two men clearly are enjoying themselves and talk about the effort that went into staging the scenes. I hate to tell them this, but it's a lot of effort put to no use. Reports about stunt performers getting injured just makes the whole thing seem all the more worthless.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

Horrifyingly bad, Cursed: Unrated Version serves as the mark of the beast on the careers of all who participated in its completion. The over-juiced and unbalanced sound mix robs any enjoyment that could be had from watching this movie and the supplemental material feels forced. Take a lesson from our canine friends: bury this one in the backyard.

Nate Meyers 2005-06-21