Christina Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth, Wes Craven running the show, a script by Kevin Williamson, perhaps the best werewolf special effects ever seen - sounds like a sure winner, doesn't it? Somehow, though, Cursed plays as flat as a fritter. It's almost painfully predictable, shows no spark of life whatsoever, and comes off as nothing more than exceedingly competent. I really don't know much about the troubled production of the film, but it seems to me that it could have used at least one more rewrite. I have a hard time getting past the ending when I think of this film - not the climax, but the very final scene which goes so far out of its way to cover all of the old Hollywood cliches that it (unlike the actual werewolf scenes) almost made me cringe. And where did they dig up Scott Baio? More importantly, why did they dig up Scott Baio?
Things started off on a bad foot for me. I've never seen Shannon Elizabeth actually look plain before, and I just could not buy Portia de Rossi as a fortune-telling gypsy. Was the old crag gypsy union on strike or something? Then you've got the prototypical high school outcast with a crush on a little cutie just happens to be dating your typical high school athlete/bully. Hmmm, do you think a little supernatural strength would come in handy for this guy? Ricci plays his big sister Ellie; she works on the Late Show with Craig Kilborn and dates this sort of mystery guy (well, actually, there's no mystery about him at all for anyone with a functioning brain). The gloom and doom siblings get bitten by a werewolf (although Ellie doesn't believe it until she can't deny it any longer), after which point we get yet another confused litany of werewolf "truths," wait to get a look at the obligatory "change," and then wonder why some werewolves transform into the beast while others keep scurrying around in their completely human forms. If I'm a werewolf, and another werewolf attacks me, I'm going to turn into a werewolf myself, by gum.
The only thing this movie does well is the special effects - with one exception, which is not really wolf-related. Early on, you only get quick snatches of the beast, and that strategy of delayed impact always works well. Through the magic of CGI, the werewolf transformation is really quite impressive (gone forever are the days of time lapse photography), but by far the best effects are those of the dog werewolf - Cujo would have turned tail and run from this fellow.
It's hard to say why this movie doesn't seem to work. In the end, it comes down to the fact that there just isn't any oomph here. I was about as emotionally invested in Cursed as I would be in any old After-School Special - what makes that especially unusual is the fact that I love Christina Ricci. With that pale white skin and dark hair, she almost always has an aura that dials right in to my frequency, but that aura just wasn't there in this film. And forget about that Kevin Williamson snappy dialogue, as the script doesn't do the movie any real favors.