October is, unsurprisingly, my favorite month of the year for all the reasons you would suspect. And though tucking into a new scary book or movie is a pleasure I indulge in throughout the year, October is the month I make very deliberate entertainment choices. My goal for each day of the month is to revisit my favorites while seeking out new works as well.
For instance, in homage to the great Peter Straub who we sadly lost in September, I have reread the only novel which still manages to scare the crap out of me regardless of how many times I’ve read it; Ghost Story. I have rewatched Sleepy Hallow, Halloween, American Werewolf in London and Fright Night (both the original and remake).
On the “new” side, I have watched The Invitation, House of Darkness and the new AMC series Interview with the Vampire, which I told you about last week. I am also nearly done with the Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) novel Ink Black Heart, which, though not a horror novel strictly speaking, is still suspensefully written and the latest installment in one of my favorite series. But its another relatively new movie title that I want to share today.
The Cursed first reached audiences last January at the Sundance Film Festival under the title Eight for Silver, where it stirred up enough buzz for it to be picked up by Elevation Pictures for distribution. It finally premiered in the US during the long President’s Day weekend in February 2022, but unfortunately closed the following weekend due to lackluster performance.
The Cursed, directed by Sean Ellis and developed by LD Entertainment cost $35M to make, not exactly making the “indie” or “microbudget” categories, but a pretty modest budget nonetheless. Still, it only made $4.8M in the US and Canada, meaning it was in no way tracking to break even, forget making the above-and-beyond money needed to be called successful.
All of this explains why The Cursed has flown under the radar and is only now generating a bit of new buzz due to Halloween.
Filmed in Cognac France and set in 1882, it has all the visuals and tropes of a classic monster movie: Secluded town? Check. Roma referred to as “Gypsies?” Check. Corrupted, disbelieving town “elders” and clergy? Check.
But this is where The Cursed diverts in unexpected and entertaining ways. It’s no easy thing to bring something new to a werewolf story but I felt The Curse delivered just that. From the origin tale, to new details about silver bullets, to the look of the monster himself, the film did enough things right to make me overlook its transgressions. Here’s the synopsis that was released with the film:
In the late 1800s, a once-peaceful remote country village is under attack–but by who or what, no one knows. Villagers spread rumors of a cursed land, supernatural forces, and even demonic creatures, as the disappearances and killings continue. Pathologist John McBride arrives to investigate the danger, only to discover something much deeper and more sinister than he ever could have imagined.
The Cursed is a gorgeous but brutal (in every sense of the word) historical drama that has deep roots in the evils of colonialism, to the point where it seems not quite right to sum it up as a “werewolf movie” alone. And yet, that is the ultimate monster story it is telling.
The Cursed is available on multiple streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, and is rated R.