UK Release Date: 11th May 2018
Runtime: 95 minutes
Director: David Freyne
Writer: David Freyne
Starring: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham
Synopsis: In the years following a zombie outbreak, a cure has been found that turns former zombies back into respectable members of society – but with full memory of what they did while infected.
There are few more things more infuriating than a movie that has a potentially brilliant concept, only to squander it on a terrible story. It’s one of the main reasons that the Purge franchise is so frustrating and has, on a number of occasions, doomed horror movies that could have been a lot of fun. The same fate awaits zombie thriller The Cured, which posits the interesting idea of what would happen if infected people could be returned to their humanity. The film is set in Ireland after a zombie uprising, following ‘cured’ people who are trying to integrate back into society – plagued by the memories of what they did while infected.
Writer-director David Freyne, in his feature debut, focuses his story around Senan (Sam Keeley). He’s a cured zombie who is struggling to fit back into society, particularly given his vivid memories of killing and eating his brother. Stuck for somewhere to live, he is forced to confront that memory head-on when he moves in with his brother’s widow Abbie (Ellen Page) – an American journalist. Despite this difficulty, Senan fares better than many other former zombies, including barrister Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), whose high-flying aspirations are impossible now he is persecuted by society.
Freyne had a terrific concept on his hands with The Cured, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. There’s undeniable intrigue to the prospect of positioning cured zombies as social outcasts, particularly given the turmoil and guilt they feel about what they did while infected. Unfortunately, the film seems unable to find a compelling way to tell its story and instead focuses on entirely guile-free jump scares. Freyne simply cranks the soundtrack up loud – honestly, it’s deafening – rather than executing the horror elements with any degree of finesse.
The problem that The Cured has is that, while it’s conceptually enticing, it’s never all that interesting. The performances, especially from Keeley and Page, are mostly decent, but it often feels as if the script is simply going through the motions of how these characters ought to feel, rather than exploring and interrogating their beliefs and actions. It’s actually Tom Vaughan-Lawlor who gets the most interesting character arc, but even that proves to be entirely free of nuance as the story moves towards its conclusion.
Given the strength of British zombie movies over the last decade or so – from the silliness of Shaun of the Dead to the dark social commentary of 28 Days Later and the character-driven intrigue of The Girl With All The Gifts – there’s something very disappointing about The Cured. It has a great concept and a roster of performers who are up for the challenge of telling the story. Unfortunately, with an inexperienced writer-director at the helm, it fails to hit the mark.
Pop or Poop?
David Freyne’s debut feature had all of the potential in the world, but unfortunately The Cured never translates its compelling central conceit into a drama to match. It focuses too heavily on big jump scares and, as a result, doesn’t create room for the actors to make these characters fly.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.