Cursed (2004) has a reputation befitting its title. The film brought Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson back together after their success with Scream (1996) only to have their modest little werewolf movie butchered by Bob and Harvey Weinstein in post-production. Cursed has its fans, but mostly it only has detractors. What few fans it does have are preoccupied with “what could have been” as opposed to what actually exists. In reality, Cursed is not as bad as most critics made it out to be nor does it show any signs of being some lost masterpiece.
Cursed, like so many of Williamson’s projects, is focused on teenagers dealing with some parental loss or negligence. In the case of Cursed, the young protagonists (Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg) have lost both of their parents in some undisclosed accident. Scream was a brilliantly metaphysical horror-comedy that flaunted genre conventions with the same ease that “Ghostface” murdered dozens of teens. Cursed is less concerned with the mechanics of the horror genre (though there are numerous references to Universal’s The Wolf Man à la Joe Dante’s The Howling) than with pushing the teenaged archetypes of John Hughes’ comedies to their extremes.
Bully turned would-be gay romantic interest Milo Ventimiglia is the best example of this singular preoccupation. The arch of the character from homophobic jock bully to sensitive and vulnerable love interest is nothing new. But the character swings from one extreme to the other while constantly being deflected by Eisenberg’s unique brand of manic neurotic. While Eisenberg fusses, Ventimiglia commits to his character’s sudden coming out with more heart and sincerity than the film calls for, making their team up oddly moving and far more compelling than any of the other relationships in Cursed. Yet, Ventimiglia’s character is still a two-dimensional punchline.
The more adult plot concerning Ricci functions as an STD allegory; a cautionary tale about unsafe sex wherein lycanthropy is the disease. Conceptually this could work, but in execution the plot feels like something from a “Monster of the Week” episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season one. Ricci’s workplace is just high school with “adults”. Relationships, be they professional or personal, lack any sort of nuance. Again and again characters are reduced to types while Wes Craven struggles to find something to say about those types visually.
This aesthetic schizophrenia could be the result of the Weinsteins’ meddling, or it could be a problem inherent to Williamson’s script. Regardless of who is responsible, Cursed remains a film of interesting ideas left unrealized. Yet, somehow, despite these obvious shortcomings Cursed seems to have been a significant influence on the television show Wolf Pack.