Cursed

2005, Movie, PG-13, 96 mins

Review

CURSED
starstarstarstar
Wes Craven's notoriously troubled, much-delayed picture, which may set a record for the number of times the title is worked into the dialogue, underwent more transformations during production than a pack of werewolves. The end result, a goofy, TEEN WOLF-style horror comedy, really doesn't justify all the effort. Orphaned siblings Ellie (Christina Ricci, who has the creepy kittenish face of a young Barbara Steele) and her teenage brother, Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg), already have their share of problems. Both are still grieving for their parents, nerdy Jimmy gets picked on at school by jocks and ignored by girls and buttoned-up Ellie's studly new boyfriend, notorious hound-dog Jake (Joshua Jackson), has just given her the "I need some space" speech. But a late-night car accident on Mulholland Drive quickly puts the petty stuff into perspective. They hit some kind of animal, careen into another car and see its driver (Shannon Elizabeth) hauled out of her crippled vehicle and torn to pieces by the strangely unscathed beast, which also bites both Ellie and Jimmy before vanishing into the shadows. Ellie spends a restless night haunted by nightmares and Jimmy wakes up buck naked in the bushes outside their house. Both crave raw meat, are suddenly stronger and give off an unaccustomed super-sexy vibe. Wimpy Jimmy trounces the bullying captain of the wrestling team (Milo Ventimiglia) and flirts with the bully's girlfriend (Kristina Anapau), who actually flirts back. Ellie becomes a wolf-whistle magnet and wows her coworkers at Craig Kilborn's show with her sex-kitten makeover. Even bitchy publicist Joannie (Judy Greer) notices that Ellie suddenly has it going on... if only the delicious smell that draws Ellie to the office pantry hadn't turned out to be human blood. Finally, a gypsy (Portia de Rossi) happens by to tell Ellie she's got the curse of the beast, and breaking it involves killing the werewolf who infected her. Isn't that always the way? This production was suspended for almost three months after the start of principal photography and extensively rewritten; most of the footage that had been shot was scrapped, actors (including Skeet Ulrich, Omar Epps and Scott Foley) were replaced and the werewolf effects reworked. But it was all for naught: The film vacillates between inanity and flat-out lameness, and the decision to recut from an R-rated version to a PG-13 sucked out whatever life might have been left. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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