Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Producers: Bob and Harvey Weinstein
Starring: Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, Jesse Eisenberg, Shannon Elizabeth, Portia de Rossi, and Mya

I had very low expectations when I picked up the DVD of Cursed. It was heavily reshot prior to its release earlier this year (never a good sign), and the version that did make it into the theaters was despised by critics everywhere. As a result, the film tanked at the box office and was quickly banished to the shelves of the local Blockbuster new release wall–with a huge “Unrated Version” stamped across the jacket. I love Wes Craven. I love Christina Ricci. I once thought Kevin Williamson could write. And “Unrated”? I decided to tempt fate and give this puppy a view.

On a dark and deserted road in the Hollywood hills, Ellie (Ricci) and her brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) strike an animal with their car and the impact forces them into another vehicle, sending it rolling down a hill into the woods. As the siblings try and help the trapped passenger (Shannon Elizabeth), the animal returns to maul them. Ellie and Jimmy survive with a few scratches. Shannon Elizabeth is not so lucky. Turns out this was not the bear or cougar the police believe it was. No, this was a werewolf. The remainder of the film deals with a horror themed club opening, and high school geek Jimmy facing his bullies–all while the mark of the beast, this “curse,” takes hold. Oh yeah, and that original werewolf is still out there, hunting Ellie and Jimmy and making everyone around them pay.

Having never seen it in theaters, I can’t tell you what is different about this version of the film–except of course for those buckets of blood the old men and Soccer Moms on the MPAA just love to hate, but I found this to be a fun movie, one that was not made to be taken seriously. Those critics who were looking for serious, dark horror, and said the movie was a mess of clichés instead? Well, they missed the point of this picture entirely. I mean, Craig Kilborn and Scott Baio both play themselves here. How the hell could you think this was supposed to be a serious effort?

As in Scream, Williamson writes for those who know the genre. There’s the Gypsy psychic (who walks in and apologizes for her ridiculous costume) and the wolf’s head cane that hark back to the original Wolfman. There’s the boy waking up naked in the backyard and the horrific dreams that are an homage to American Werewolf in London. And then there are all of the horrific props in the trendy nightclub. As Ellie quips, “Planet Hollywood has nothing on you guys.”

Sure, Cursed has its eye rolling moments–like the werewolf who actually flips off a character, and its certainly not original, but with all the PG-13 dreck that the studios are shoveling into multiplexes these days under the guise of Horror, it is easy to appreciate Wes Craven and Kevin WIlliamson’s efforts here. They know how to set the mood, how to establish the basics of plot and character, how to keep the pace quick and the action moving, and–most of all–how to have some fun with the material.

Cursed is a movie who’s only goal is to see that you have a good time while you’re watching it. In this age of garbage like Boogeyman, what’s wrong with that?

3 out of 5 stars