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The Cured - DVD Review

LIKE vampires, werewolves and all manner of other bloodcurdling creatures of darkness, zombies undoubtedly have become a core part of our modern popular culture.

We all know the classic tropes to expect from them so well, from their lurching, lumbering walk and their ripped clothes to their bloodied appearance and their strong desire to taste human flesh.

However, the fact that the creatures are so well known by so many of us must create a real challenge for modern horror film-makers, as they face the unenviable task of trying to ensure that their own new creations ultimately have what it takes to stand out from the huge number of zombie movies that have come before.

A multimedia mainstay

After all, the undead have been a major presence on the big screen for a number of decades now, with the creatures making their first real breakthrough with the seminal 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead.

George A Romero’s gory and terrifying masterpiece was made on a tiny budget but has gone on to have a major impact on cinema, setting the benchmark for what we expect from typical zombie movies.

Since then, the creatures have appeared on the big screen countless times, including in much-loved modern classics like the 2006 film Slither – which was directed by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn – and Edgar Wright’s rather brilliant 2004 comedy Shaun of the Dead.

They have also had a big impact on literature and in graphic novels too, with The Walking Dead of course being an example of the latter which has gone on to be adapted into a major TV series. The creatures are also hugely popular in gaming, with the likes of Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead being classic titles which have made use of them.

Furthermore, a look at the themed games at some online casinos highlights how zombies have even made a leap into the online slots world with titles like Lost Vegas. The slot from Microgaming gives players the chance to dive into a zombie apocalypse in the famous city and even allows them to decide whether to play as a survivor or one of the undead.

A new take

So, with zombies simply being everywhere these days, it is clear that any new entry into this part of the horror world has to have its own voice and provide a unique take on the concept. This is something that David Freyne’s The Cured undoubtedly takes strong strides towards.

Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2017, the film was written and directed by Freyne and stars Ellen Page alongside Sam Keeley and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. It is set in Ireland following a period where a mysterious illness called the Maze Virus has spread through Europe and led people to turn into zombie-like monsters.

However, the first interesting twist to the plot is that a cure for the virus has been created and a large number of those infected have been able to return to society.

Among these is Sam Keeley’s character Senan, who is released into the care of his sister-in-law Abbie (Page) and lives with her and her young son Cillian. However, as he looks to rebuild his life, Senan faces a number of challenges, including flashbacks related to the things he did when infected and also continued contact with one of his cured friends Conor.

Without giving anything away, it is fair to say the latter has a different outlook on things.

Thought-provoking themes

Just that small amount of plot should highlight how this is very much a zombie film with a difference. It is undoubtedly a thoughtful take on the genre and is wrapped up in a lot of politics. For example, the cured face the issue of whether society as a whole is ultimately happy to accept them and this is just one aspect which creates a real level of tension across the film.

Of course, zombie films and horror movies in general have long been wrapped up in political allegory and metaphor. The list of examples is pretty large but, again, George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead undoubtedly touched upon political issues – particularly in its ending – while his sequel, Dawn of the Dead, put consumerism in general in its sights.

However, it feels like The Cured has found a new way to weave politics into the genre, simply by focusing on a few great ‘what if?’ questions – what if zombies were cured and reintegrated into society? Would you be able to forgive them for their past horrors? And would they ever truly be accepted by the wider world?

As its tagline highlights, it is fair to say that the cure is just the beginning of this story.

Gripping drama

All in all, there is plenty to consider after watching The Cured. The feature distributed by IFC Films uses elements long-established as part of the horror movie world – namely zombies and political metaphor – to craft an intriguing narrative which is full of tension and gripping drama.

It is undoubtedly a fascinating addition to the not-unsubstantial catalogue of zombie movies out there today and is well worth the time of aficionados with a deep love of the undead genre.