on February 25, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
"Cursed," created by the folks behind the "Scream" franchise, is yet another dull, overdone and predictable horror movie, which, the odd exception like "28 Days Later" aside, is par for the course these days. Christina Ricci ("Monster") is Ellie, a booker for "Late Night with Craig Kilborn." One night, Ellie and her geeky teenage brother Jimmy ("Roger Dodger's" Jesse Eisenberg) encounter a monstrous creature on the highway. They get bitten and, before you can say Lon Chaney, start exhibiting werewolf-like tendencies. Of course, in their post-ironic, self-aware Hollywood universe, they know all about those beings, though Ellie is reluctant to accept the truth. Meanwhile, something is killing all the pretty girls in Ellie's circle.

None of this is carried out with any style or bravura, with the filmmakers opting for an uneasy and messy blend of vapid teen drama and overly graphic horror. The audience is also subjected to a loud, heavy-handed score that telegraphs the mayhem to come, and pretentious dialogue courtesy of writer Kevin Williamson -- who, lest we forget, also created the terribly self-conscious "Dawson's Creek." Ricci mugs and screams her way throughout the movie; the rest of the cast, other than Eisenberg, isn't any better.

Granted, considering that half the movie had to be reshot a year later, losing much of its original cast in the process, "Cursed" isn't quite the unmitigated disaster it might have been, despite its continuity errors and some really fake -- and no doubt rushed -- special effects. It's just a bad and larcenous movie that mostly serves to remind one of better cult movies like "An American Werewolf in London" and "The Howling." By comparison, this one just bites. Starring Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg, Joshua Jackson and Judy Greer. Directed by Wes Craven. Written by Kevin Williamson. Produced by Marianne Maddalena and Kevin Williamson. A Dimension release. Horror. Rated PG-13 for horror violence/terror, some sexual references, nudity, language and a brief drug reference. Running time: 99 min

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