‘The Cured’ has already been unleashed to much critical applaud in the run up to its release. Lauded for being the latest movie offer a refreshing ‘touch up’ to the shambling corpse of horrors most adored sub-genre.
Like the feral hordes depicted, zombie movies in general take a bit of a beating! Fans and critics alike seem to have a real love-hate relationship with the majority of fodder released under genre label; hence, when the verdict on a newly released Zombie flick is unanimously praised for its efforts, its well worth your time to check out.
The plot of ‘The Cured’ is the films ‘edge’ on the competition, as is customary in my reviews, lets start there. The film opens as we are introduced to the aftermath of a global zombie epidemic. Like the real-life plague, in the films fictional dystopia some of humanity is naturally immune and, much to the salvation of the many infected, they have also found a cure.
So, assuming you’ve not already been dismembered, for the first time in cinematic history, you can have your zombification reversed. There is a catch however, during your time as one of the savage undead you may have done somethings you might regret. A bit like being pissed, the recollections of your uncontrollable acts the nights before come back to ‘The Cured’ as hazy memories. Needless to say this puts those who are saved in a bit of a rocky place psychologically speaking, and those immune now share their social spaces with the very people whose diseased driven assaults they spent years fending off. Cue all sorts of socio-political parallels with a number of modern issues from xeno-phobia to stigmas surrounding mental health, the film turns its focus towards a small group of ‘cured’ and their struggle to continue their lives after un-death.
The films plot lends itself more towards being a zombie- themed drama than a straight up genre effort. I found the premise intriguing and did wonder how the film would develop seeing’s as it seemed intent from the get go to focus on the living as opposed to the typical survival against the undead. The script is strong, and supports a lot of the issues it clearly addresses in its subtext without being patronising or to pretentious. The story develops well, although I’m going to put myself out there and say that some of the plot developments, especially throughout the somewhat bloated mid-section, do feel a tiny bit forced. That said the acting is equally as impressive, and it’s a good job to, this film takes a big gamble on the delivery of its plentiful dialogue. The group we follow are very ‘normal’, aside from the charismatic Tom Vaughan-Lawlor who plays one of the films protagonists a character roster only let down a little by the inclusion of the ‘evil’ and prejudice military cliched types. In the films best moments, you route for the characters and even as you can see their struggle with society, each other, and the aforementioned military thugs reaching a boiling point, you want to see them succeed.
For much of the film you get the feeling writer/director is doing his absolute best to avoid the clichés. Its obvious he is going for that ‘something different’ to make his mark and to a degree it works. The premise of the film is an outstanding idea, both interesting and ‘timely’ given topical wold issues, however it comes at a cost. Scrutinize the plot too much and I found it doesn’t quite work, with reactions and timelines disproportionate to the plots progression, not to mention some of the films ‘real-life issue’ parallels aren’t quite the same as the films metaphors need them to be. There is also the issue of pacing, by avoiding the onscreen carnage for much of the films run time (which would undermine the films more reserved approach had it been more frequent), the films middle section lacks the urgency of the films opener.
That said, the films finale more than makes up for it. Being a little more typical than the rest of the film, and stylistically closer to other more successful contemporary zombie films the ending packs a punch. Here the investment of characterisation, backstory and, well your time, pays off. As a genre fan I felt like I had the full packaged as the films most violent scenes look great and satiated my lingering blood-lust.
So, overall, is it 2018's genre saving film? Well it’s certainly the one to beat thus far. The concept is fantastic, so simple you kick yourself for not having come up with it yourself in fact, and with so much scope for development. Whilst I’ve already stated my reservations with some of the films story Freyne puts himself well onto the map with this, his debut feature making him one to watch for watch for the future. As a genre fan it’s a no brainer, and if you like your drama and world issues mixed in with a bit of horror to, then you are likely well looked after.