Tuesday 31 January 2023

The Cursed AKA Eight For Silver (2021)

The main thing that you may have heard about The Cursed already is that most people preferred the other title for it, Eight For Silver. I actually don’t mind either title, both are equally vague until you see what the film is about. And the film has bigger problems than the title and marketing.

I don’t want to spoil anything about this, you can find details elsewhere if you want to know more, but The Cursed is an attempt to do something a bit more interesting and fresh with a horror archetype. You have a central family in peril, you have a newcomer to town who is armed with guns and vital knowledge, and you have characters on a journey of discovery and growth on the way to a standard final confrontation between forces of good and evil (sort of).

Written and directed by Sean Ellis, who has a small and eclectic filmography I would recommend checking out (I will keep recommending The Broken as something well worth your time), The Cursed is a handsome film that gains some goodwill for the approach it takes to the material. Everything is played straight, there are no sly winks to viewers or attempts to slip some modernity into the period setting, and it generally keeps viewers one step ahead of the main characters. Trying to make this a mystery just wouldn’t have worked, although the film is bookended by a cinematic puzzle and solution (which is, sadly, a big mid-step, considering how it feels anti-climactic).

The cast are all perfectly fine, I suppose, but they are saddled with having to play characters who aren’t really developed enough to make them memorable. I know to mention Boyd Holbrook here (the newcomer to town) because I know Boyd Holbrook, the same goes for both Kelly Reilly and Alistair Petrie. Everyone else, whether adult or child (and it is children who are the main targets of the unfolding horror), feels almost completely interchangeable. They are all potential victims, although some are related to the central adults and some are not.

While Ellis does well with the presentation of his ideas, and while he deserves praise for doing something that nicely blends traditional elements with one or two unique details, The Cursed ends up ultimately failing to be as good as it could be. It just needs a little bit more in the mix, whether that is a little bit more bloodshed, a little bit more work on the character development, or a little bit more complexity to the plot, giving viewers more to care and think about during the quieter moments.

I am sure that some people will like this much more than I did, and I remain happy that Ellis is still helming movies that aren’t as easily pigeon-holed as many, but this won’t be something I rush to revisit. I don’t regret watching it. I just wish the script had been given at least one more pass, and maybe the casting could have been a bit better.


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