The Cured: Zombies, Trauma, and Forgiveness

At some point, you have to wonder if the zombie film is going to run out of steam. Just in time for Halloween, Netflix has added the Ellen Page zombie flick, The Cured. Though it premiered last year and saw a limited theatrical release earlier in 2018, The Cured is only now appearing on streaming platforms. Critics were divided, but does The Cured offer enough insightful zombie fun for your Halloween viewing?

Synopsis

A virus that turns infected into ‘zombies’ has ravaged much of Europe. The virus has hit Ireland particularly hard. But the government has developed a cure to the ‘Maze Virus’ to which only a quarter of infected remain ‘Resistant’. As the government warehouses the ‘Resistant’ is a secure facility, public debate rages as how to best deal with these remaining infected. In the meantime, ‘The Cured’ are being released back into society where mistrustful residents await. Senan is taken in by his sister-in-law but struggles to re-integrate, still haunted by what he did when he was infected.

The Cured is Brimming with Timely Ideas

David Freyne both wrote and directed The Cured, a zombie movie loaded with challenging ideas. Just the premise itself instantly distinguishes The Cured from the horde of zombie movies. Freyne’s decision to open the movie with ‘cured’ citizens already being released sets the story on its own path lending some novelty to a tired subgenre. That the ‘Cured’ can also remember everything they did while zombies adds an unfamiliar layer to the narrative.

To his credit, Freyne compellingly weaves all these elements into what feels like a political drama.

For the first hour or so, Freyne then takes his tpremise and pushes it in an intriguing direction. Senan’s complex relationship with another ‘Cured’, Connor, who exercises undue influence over him, lends The Cured additional tension. Later in the movie, Freyne introduces another wrinkle with the revelation that the ‘Resistant’ do not target ‘The Cured’. To his credit, Freyne compellingly weaves all these elements into what feels more like a political drama. Mass incarceration of the ‘Resistant’, divergent security measures with the ‘The Cured’, and public fear-mongering are among the politically charged subjects included. The first hour feels like a good Black Mirror episode.

The Cured Offers a Poignant Examination of Trauma

At the heart of its story, The Cured is focused on its three main characters and how each copes with trauma. Both Senan and Connor share the bond of being cured. Fear and mistrust haunt both characters. In one chilling scene, military officer Cantor, who serves as something akin to a parole officer, reminds Connor that “it’s not your world anymore.” Yet while the past haunts Senan and his struggles to find forgiveness, Connor brims with anger. Both Sam Keeley and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor fully inhabit their characters. But it’s Kelley who really stands out with an understated performance.

Both Sam Kelley and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor fully inhabit their characters. But it’s Kelley who really stands out with an understated performance.

Not surprisingly, Ellen Page delivers another compelling performance as Abbie. Like Senan and Connor, the Maze Virus has also left Abbie traumatized. Her husband is missing, dead or infected, while she cares for her young son. For much of movie, Page restrains her performance, but as the movie unfolds, she lets her grief rise to the surface.

Traditional Horror Elements Feel Out of Place

Where The Cured struggles is with its attempts to integrate more traditional horror elements. This is not to say that Freyne incapably executes his zombie moments. On the contrary, The Cured has some unsettling zombie imagery and a liberal dosage of scares. But it’s also these elements that feel most derivative of better zombie movies. Arguably, 28 Days Later is the movie that most frequently comes to mind while watching The Cured. The movie doesn’t fare quite as well with the comparison, particularly as Freyne abandons some of his more complex ideas for a standard horror climax. As a horror film, The Cured neither builds nor sustains the required tension.

The Cured Is An Interesting Movie That May Struggle to Find An Audience

Like earlier 2018 releases Cargo and Hostile, The Cured shows that the zombie remains the most socially conscious of horror’s monsters. Yet as good as The Cured is for the first half, it eventually descends into familiar territory. Where this zombie thriller may struggle to find an audience is with its divergent approach to the subgenre. Horror fans may find the introspective drama too dull. Conversely, it may turn off non-horror fans with the zombie gore and scares. Additionally, the second half may draw unfavourable comparisons to better, more focused zombie movies.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: B

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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