Director: David Freyne Starring: Elliot Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor Running Time: 96 minutes
The Cured picks up where most zombie movies end. Society has reintroduced some degree of normality. Hordes of ravenous undead have stopped terrorising the streets. People are beginning to feel safe in their own homes again. However, as communities begin rebuilding themselves, once infected citizens, now cured of their insatiable appetites, are re-introduced back onto the streets, much to the outrage and disdain of the masses. It is in this setting – the aftermath of the bloodshed – that The Cured chooses to tell its story, a story less concerned with jumping out from behind corners to scare you than it is with burrowing deep within your conscious and challenging you.
Set in Dublin City, The Cured introduces us to Senan (Keely), a ‘cured’ man welcomed home with a mixture of love and trepidation by his sister-in-law Abbie (Page) and her young son. As anti-Cured protesters march through the streets, Senan and his once infected friend Connor (Vaughan-Lawlor) become outcasts in the neighbourhoods they used to call home. While Senan buries himself in his work, Connor begins to draw up plans for his own world, one where the Cured are in control.
In his debut film, director David Freyne has managed to sink his teeth into the horror genre to produce an original story full of wonderful ideas. While its exterior is that of a violent zombie movie, the film is more concerned with the lines that societies in crisis draw in order to keep themselves safe. Audiences are often presented with more moral conundrums than blood and guts, as the fate of the cured and incurable citizens of Ireland hangs in the balance. In one fascinating idea, the newly cured members of society must live with the horrifying memories of the actions they carried out while infected, challenging audiences to deal with issues such as regret, despair, loss, etc.
Yet, while large ideas are explored in great detail, Freyne leaves plenty of room for the tropes and staples that helped establish the zombie genre throughout the years. The movie is, at turns, violent & ruthless, offering much in the line of sudden scares, flashy gore and moments of dread, all the while refusing to sacrifice its ideas in the process. Freyne’s ability to do as such demonstrates his understanding of modern audiences’ appetites as well as his ability to satisfy all pallets while producing sharp, smart and engaging cinema.
In front of the camera, the audience is presented with typically strong performances from all those involved, with particular attention needing to be given to those of Sam Keeley and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Senan and Connor share a turbulent relationship often upset by a clash of morals and opinions. Yet this turbulence is rationalised by the two actors’ performances, as they offer up vivid portrayals and clear motivations that have led the characters to this point in their lives. If Love/Hate didn’t prove his talents, The Cured certainly will as Tom Vaughan-Lawlor offers yet another complex and layered performance in a complicated role.
While there is so much of The Cured to love, the film narrowly misses out the coveted 4-star rating. Ultimately, the film bites off a little more than it could chew (this pun was absolutely 100% intended…) resulting in many of the film’s interesting ideas not having a chance to be fleshed out in any way.
However, The Cured is still an absorbing watch. This moody, melancholic debut from David Freyne should stand as an example of the quality he is capable of in the future as he begins his hopefully long and successful career behind the camera.(3.5 / 5)