ⓘ Cursed (2005 film)

Cursed (2005 film)

ⓘ Cursed (2005 film)

Cursed is a 2005 American-German werewolf body horror film directed by Wes Craven and written by screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who both collaborated on Scream. The film stars Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as two estranged siblings attacked by a werewolf loose in Los Angeles.

Originally planned for 2003, the film is a notable example of development hell, taking over two more years to be made than originally planned, during which producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein kept asking for reshoots and changes to the plot, re-edited the movie to give a PG-13 rating rather than the original intended R-rating, and fired legendary makeup artist Rick Baker to replace the werewolves he had created with computer-generated ones. The film was a box-office failure and was panned by critics; Craven himself was very displeased with the final result.


1. Plot

On a seaside pier in Los Angeles, friends Jenny Tate and Becky Morton decide to get their fortune told by Zela. Zela foretells that they will suffer a horrible fate, but they dont believe her and walk away disgusted.

That night, 16-year-old high-schooler Jimmy Myers is picked up on Mulholland Drive by his 24-year-old sister Ellie, who has just returned from visiting her boyfriend, Jake Taylor. Jimmy had a run-in with some bullies and his crush, Brooke. Driving home, Jimmy and Ellie collide with an animal and another car. They attempt to rescue the other driver, Becky Morton, but an unseen creature slashes the siblings before it drags Becky off and rips her in half. When interviewed by police, despite Jimmys belief that it was a wolf or dog-type animal, the official report credits it to a bear or cougar.

The next day at work, Ellie finds herself attracted to the scent of a coworkers blood. But she dismisses it.

At a party, Jenny interrupts a conversation between Ellie and Jake. Annoyed that Jenny is flirting with Jake, Ellie leaves the party early. Soon after this Jenny heads down to the parking garage where she is chased and killed by a werewolf. Zelas predictions for both Jenny and Becky have come to pass.

Jimmy does research about wolves in California and starts to believe that the creature was a werewolf, sharing his thoughts with a disbelieving Ellie. To ease Jimmys concerns she touches a silver picture frame without getting burned.

Jimmy is becoming much stronger and more aggressive, as shown when a bully named Bo coerces him to join the wrestling team. He easily defeats three wrestlers, including Bo, and calls Bo out for constantly making gay jokes towards him, saying that Bo himself is repressing his own homosexuality.

Ellie starts to believe the werewolf hypothesis when she meets Zela, who warns about the effect the coming full moon will have. Jimmy proves they have been cursed when he holds a silver cake server and gets burned, discovering that the picture frame Ellie touched earlier was only stainless steel. Their dog, Zipper, bites Jimmy, tastes his blood, becomes a lycanthropoid monster, and goes on a rampage. Realizing whats happening, Jimmy goes to warn Ellie with Bo, who showed up at their house to confess that he is gay and has feelings for Jimmy; Bo is flatly rejected by Jimmy who believes the attraction to be his werewolf pheromones, but Bo still helps Jimmy.

Ellie has deduced that Jake is a werewolf. He confirms it, but claims it wasnt he who attacked her and Jimmy. When a fourth werewolf attacks them, Bo and Jimmy try to help, but Bo is knocked out. The new werewolf turns back into Joanie, who was cursed after a one-night stand with Jake. She now wants revenge by killing all of the other girls Jake dates. When Jake refuses to let Joanie hurt Ellie, she knocks him out, then turns into werewolf form and starts attacking. Ellie and Jimmy fight her, and when the police arrive, the two draw her out by insulting her. The police open fire, apparently killing her in werewolf form, but she rises again as her head and heart are still connected. A policeman shoots her in the head, finally killing her. Bo is okay, but Jake has disappeared.

Jimmy and Ellie return to a wrecked home. As Jimmy works to restore the power, Jake arrives. He reveals that since Joanie’s curse was caused by him, the only way to cure it is to kill the werewolf who started the curse-line and wants to kill Jimmy due to his alpha male instinct and have Ellie live forever by his side. She and Jake fight, but her werewolf form emerges sporadically while he has complete control over his, dominating the fight. Werewolf Jimmy joins in, climbing across the ceiling and biting Jake, allowing Ellie to stab and badly injure Jake with the silver cake server. Ellie decapitates Jake with a shovel and breaks the curse on the two siblings and Zipper. They watch as Jakes body bursts into flames.

Bo, Brooke, and Zipper arrive at the house. Bo and Jimmy are now friends; Jimmy kisses Brooke and walks her home along with Bo. Ellie is stuck with the clean-up of the messy house.


2. Production

The original script was written in August 2000. Dimension co-founder Bob Weinstein announced in October 2002 that Cursed would "reinvent the werewolf genre," and Wes Craven would direct, with the movie being released around August 2003.

Christina Ricci, Skeet Ulrich, and Jesse Eisenberg were cast as the three leads. The original plotline had three strangers brought together by a car accident in the Hollywood Hills and the subsequent attack of a werewolf. The three characters were named Ellie Hudson, Vince Winston, and Jimmy Myers. With a budget of $38 million, Cursed commenced shooting in March 2003 in Los Angeles. The set used for the high school is Torrance High School, the same used for Sunnydale High on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and West Beverly High on Beverly Hills, 90210 and its spin-off 90210. Filming also occurred at Verdugo Hills High School. Special effects were shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

However, the film soon suffered numerous production and script issues and was postponed for over a year. While production was stalled, several cast members had to be replaced due to scheduling conflicts with other films. When the movie was rewritten and reshot, many cast members had been cut entirely, including Skeet Ulrich, Mandy Moore, Omar Epps, Illeana Douglas, Heather Langenkamp, Scott Foley, Robert Forster, and Corey Feldman. Some of them had even filmed scenes which were scrapped by director Wes Craven. In the film, Ellie works among the crew of The Late Show with Craig Kilborn, with Kilborn making a cameo appearance and Scott Baio, as himself, being booked to appear on the show. But by the time the film was released in February 2005, Kilborn had left the show and had been replaced with Craig Ferguson.

Only about 90% of the original version was filmed, leaving the original scripted version unfilmed. Although, while filming the original version, producer Bob Weinstein told Wes Craven he was happy with the film, he later changed his opinion and ordered for the movie to be reshot with a new plot. After massive reshoots which included filming a new ending, Weinstein told Craven he didnt like the new ending, leading to another ending where Jake attacks Ellie and Jimmy in their home, despite some incoherence with the rest of the film.

Rick Baker did the werewolf effects for the original version of the film, but once Bob Weinstein and Miramax ordered reshoots, all the scenes with Bakers effects were deleted and replaced by KNB.

In the fall of 2004, Dimension cut the film to a PG-13 rating instead of the planned R rating. Speaking to the New York Post, Wes Craven commented, "The contract called for us to make an R-rated film. We did. It was a very difficult process. Then it was basically taken away from us and cut to PG-13 and ruined. It was two years of very difficult work and almost 100 days of shooting of various versions. Then at the very end, it was chopped up and the studio thought they could make more with a PG-13 movie, and trashed it. I thought it was completely disrespectful, and it hurt them too, and it was like they shot themselves in the foot with a shotgun."

Jennys death scene in the elevator was originally much gorier, her dead body shown with her belly ripped apart, but not even the R-rated DVD version included this scene. A picture of her mutilated body was, however, shown in a Fangoria article published before the films release covering the infamously troubled production.

In 2008, Wes Craven was quoted saying; ". the Cursed experience was so screwed up. I mean, that went on for two-and-a-half years of my life for a film that wasnt anything close to what it should have been. And another film that I was about to shoot having the plug pulled – Pulse – so it was like, I did learn from the Cursed experience not to do something for money. They said, We know you want to do another film, well pay you double. And we were 10 days from shooting, and I said fine. But I ended up working two-and-a-half years for double my fee, but I could have done two-and-a-half movies, and done movies that were out there making money. In general, I think its not worth it and part of the reason my phone hasnt rung is that story is pretty well known."

In 2014, costar Judy Greer spoke of the film in an interview: "I dont know why that movie got so fucked up. I dont understand it. I thought the script was fine. Honest to god, I didnt get the big deal. I dont know who kept making them fuck with it. Then we shot the movie for, like, seven years. I think they said we had four movies worth of footage. It was so fun, but so weird. I dont get it. I couldnt figure it out."

In 2018, Christina Ricci also spoke briefly about the film in an interview: "It was one of those studio movies that just got horribly screwed up."


3. Marketing

The taglines include "What doesnt kill you can make you stronger", "Have you ever felt like youre not human anymore?" and "The Evolution of the Specie."

Several film posters were released, some for abroad, such as the Swedish poster with the tagline "Vem kan du lita på vif fullmåne?" "Whom can you trust during the full Moon?"; the unrated versions poster has a red color palette, rather than the standard American. A second American poster gives the title as Wes Cravens Cursed with the tagline "Living comes at a price."


4. Release

In the United States, the film was originally to be released as an R-rated film with graphic violent scenes. However, the studio wished to have a more marketable PG-13 rating, and the film was edited and released as a PG-13 film. In Canada, the uncut version of the film was released theatrically and received a 14A in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, a 14 in the Maritimes after appeal and a 13+ in Quebec. In British Columbia, the film was given an 18A and, after an unsuccessful appeal, the edited US version was submitted, 14A-rated, and released in British Columbia.


4.1. Release Home media

When released on DVD in the US on June 21, 2005, two versions were available: the original theatrical version rated PG-13; 97 min., and also an unrated version 99 min. which contains the footage cut to obtain a PG-13 rating and runs approximately 2 minutes longer than the original release. The film received its Blu-ray release on September 11, 2012, in a double feature with another Wes Craven film, They.

In Canada, Alliance Atlantis released the unrated marketed as Uncensored version only on DVD as opposed to Dimension Home Video in the US and the DVD cover was changed to match the original theatrical poster.


5.1. Reception Critical reception

The film was largely panned by critics, audiences, and Craven alike. It currently has a 17% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 96 reviews, with an average score of 3.47/10. The site consensus reads: "A predictable plot and cheesy special effects make Cursed a less-than-scary experience." Metacritic reports a score of 31/100 based on 21 critics, indicating "Generally unfavorable reviews".

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, Cursed is a third-rate effort, with a weak script, cheap-looking effects and no genuine frights." Film Threat stated, "Not that it doesnt make movie history. Until this past Friday, the worst werewolf film ever made was, hairy hands down, Mike Nichols Wolf. Cursed now assumes that dubious distinction and someone is going to have to try very hard to wrestle it away."

Rafe Telsch of Cinema Blend, granting the movie 2 out of 5 stars, felt that Cursed isnt a bad film, and actually takes a unique approach to modern day genre movies by styling itself as an older one. The film is a fun little romp in the werewolf world, although Cursed never really sets any rules for the creatures themselves, leaving itself open to keep cute faces like Riccis uncovered by makeup, but leaving the audience unsatisfied that there arent really many werewolves in this werewolf movie."


5.2. Reception Box office

Cursed opened theatrically on February 25, 2005, grossing $19.297.522 at the North American box office and $10.324.200 internationally for a total worldwide gross of $29.621.722 against a $38 million budget, making the film a box office bomb.