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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Cured movie review: land of the living undead

The Cured yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

A slow, mild exploration of guilt, grief, bigotry, and militant sectarianism, all in the context of a treatment for a zombie virus. Tepid and frustratingly underdeveloped, with few surprises.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): love a good zombie movie…
I’m “biast” (con): …but it’s rare to find anything fresh in the subgenre
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, female coprotagonist
(learn more about this)

A few years after a global zombie outbreak has been quelled, the city of Dublin is preparing to release the last of those cured of the virus back into the population. Cured Sean (Sam Keeley: Megan Leavey) is taken in by his widowed sister-in-law, American journalist Abbie (Ellen Page: Flatliners), and her young son, Cillian (Oscar Nolan); her generosity comes in the face of not only the generalized animosity, mistrust, and outright violence the cured are subjected to, but also the fact that her husband, Sean’s brother, was killed in the zombie chaos.

The film, the feature debut of writer-director David Freyne, is slow and mild in exploring Sean’s guilt (most of the cured remember what they did under the influence of the virus, and he has nightmares about it), Abbie’s grief, and society’s bigotry, and then, as if realizing he doesn’t have enough there there, Freyne tosses in further complications that will also remain underexplored. The most frustrating of these is the metaphor for Irish sectarianism that comes via Sean’s fellow cured, Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor: Becoming Jane), who turns militant and sides with the zombies still in custody who have not responded to the treatment. But also too tepid are the threads of narrative about Abbie’s journalistic investigations into Conor’s terroristic “Cured Alliance” and the urgency of cure developer Dr. Joan Lyons (Paula Malcomson: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2) to treat the so-far incurable.

Freyne’s attempts to create suspense and drama by withholding too much just leave us feeling disconnected, until too-pat resolutions leave us unsatisfied. This isn’t the first zombie-cure story we’ve had recently — the 2014 Spanish-Canadian film The Returned is terrific — but unfortunately The Cured makes it feel like this new twist to the subgenre is already played out.

Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other releases.

yellow light 2.5 stars

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The Cured (2018) | directed by David Freyne
US/Can release: Feb 23 2018 (VOD same day)
UK/Ire release: May 11 2018

MPAA: rated R for violence, bloody images, and language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong violence, gore, threat, language)

viewed at home on PR-supplied physical media or screening link

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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