A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.
February 23rd, 2018
I’m 6 years younger than the original Night of the Living Dead from George A. Romero and company. And I was only 4 years old when Dawn of the Dead arrived on the scene.
But somehow, despite the lapse of 8 years between birth and when I eventually discovered Creepshow (where my zombie obsession took off) – I can still firmly state that I have always been a die-hard zombie fan.
How? Okay. How about, I was a “zombie fanatic in the making”? My destiny was to discover this sidebar of horror – it just took those 8 years of childhood to find that out.
And so when something new comes down the line to further saturate the zombie sub-genre – I may go in with some hesitation (don’t mess with my zombies, yo!)… but that potential pause is always paired up with absolute hope.
We’ll get to the nitty-gritty of what did and didn’t work, but right off the bat, The Cured is something special – certainly in its initial idea, if not completely so in its overall execution.
It’s been a few years since an “infected” outbreak (this is 28 Days Later territory, not The Walking Dead) spread far and wide across Ireland. Since containment, a cure has been found for the infected people. But about 25% of them are resistant to the treatment. The other 75% have been reintroduced into regular society, with mixed reactions and mixed results. Thing is, the cured (thus the title) remember everything they did while under the influence of the sickness – which included cannibalism.
Senan (Sam Keeley) and his friend Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) have received treatment and are returning to public life. While Conor’s family will have nothing to do with him, Senan is welcomed into the home of his sister-in-law Abbie (Oscar-nominee Ellen Page – who produces here) and her young son. Abbie’s husband/Senan’s brother didn’t make it out of the original zombie onslaught, and Senan knows more than he’s letting on.
What sets The Cured apart from so many other zombie films of recent years – is the very political stance it takes on both the many immigration debates facing the world, as well as calling back to such things as the beginnings of the AIDS crisis – and how those with the disease were wholly shunned by those who remained uninfected.
There are many factions at play in the story of The Cured – uninfected, infected, infected but cured and so on – and so there are many points of view which are offered up to an audience. I found this aspect of the film quite fascinating – not only for the choices offered, but for making me realize how I might react in such a situation. Well done.
I was enamored by the film’s setting. It seems that the filmmakers had an “all-access” pass to the city where the film was shot. Dark alleys, run-down churches and clean/polite neighborhoods all made for some extra authenticity and grittiness – especially in light of what this community had been through. Certainly helping along in the film’s mood was the dreary, cloudy Irish weather.
And the production designers who came up with the public service posters seen plastered all over town — deserve a pat on the back. The highlight was the childish drawing of a little kid, saying something alone the lines of “I may be small, but I can still infect”. Many of these brilliant set dressings may go unnoticed, but keep a keen eye peeled, as they’re absolutely worth it. And at the film’s conclusion, there’s a “blink and you might miss it” campaign poster of great importance. Nice touch.
While the film is more of a character study and an impetus for political discussions, it’s still a zombie (excuse me, “infected”) film. And there is quite a bit of blood-letting as well as ample effective “boo” moments. I would have liked a little more volume as far as marauding “infected”s when that moment arrives (not a spoiler – you know it’s coming – it’s a zombie film for heaven’s sake).
Despite the fact that the rules of this particular zombie outbreak are absolutely fascinating and unique (the infected carry a pack mentality and the idea that the infected remember everything they did while under the influence of the sickness), the film doesn’t quite make the cut as, well… a cut about the rest.
Technically – in shot composition, costuming and make-up effects – it easily garners respect. But when all is said and done, I don’t think it quite had the emotional impact I wanted or that the film perhaps needed.
And being a piece about character, redemption, loyalty and the definition of “family” – you would expect to have that emotional wallop at one point or another.
That’s not to fault the performances. Page nails several “Oscar-clip” moments – notably when Senan tells Abbie some hidden details about his time under the sickness’ influence.
And Keeley is a solid lead. I love me some good baggage for a main character, and Senan has no shortage of just that. So Keeley has plenty to pull from as far as the script and the character’s history.
Keeley really makes us feel how torn this character is – again, bringing up the overriding theme of loyalty. I don’t think Keeley takes Senan to any sort of particular “flashiness” in the role, since the character is still overwhelmed and uncertain (not to mention dealing with some serious PTSD), which makes the performance all the more somber and realistic. When looking to a film and wishing to God that you’ll have immediate sympathy for the lead character – look no further than The Cured.
Noteworthy performances and an insanely cool take on the zombie sub-genre (seriously, why didn’t I think of this?) make The Cured worth your time and your dime. I can’t go higher than a solid 4-star review, as again – I feel that there’s something missing in the film’s handling of what should be a hearty and heartfelt emotional center. Something’s a bit off and the film suffers slightly because of it.
The Cured is scheduled for a wider US release (theatrical and VOD) on February 23rd, 2018. It played at several high profile film festivals last year, with a few festival showings still to come in 2018.