Aright, straight out of the gate I will admit that when I first saw the crazed, fast, and hyper violent zombies in Danny Boyle’s 28 DAYS LATER, I said, “Hell yes!” Though there has been much heated debate among horror fans regarding the superiority of aggressive undead vs Romero-style lumbering undead, I decided long ago that I love both. Like Tarantino’s “Beatles or Stones” nonsense, I am a grown ass woman and can enjoy it all. Additionally, though some may argue that the reanimation genre is exceedingly tired, it is nevertheless demonstrated time and time again that if executed in a clever and interesting way, the beloved facet of horror continues to thrive. Such is the case with David Freyne’s THE CURED, a novel take on an age old favorite where flesh eaters are anything but sluggish.
THE CURED takes place after a zombie apocalypse has nearly annihilated the verdant island country of Ireland. As told in hindsight after 4 years, the plague- or Maze virus- was contained and nearly all those afflicted with the mysterious syndrome were seemingly cured. The trick, though, is that the former flesh eaters can remember all of the ghastly deeds they committed while infected. As one can imagine, the ramifications are vast as family members struggle to forgive their momentarily monstrous loved ones just as the reformed struggle even more to forgive themselves. Complicating matters further is the fact that around 25 percent of the diseased failed to respond to treatment. As the government moves to execute the remaining uncured, doctors and “cured activists” fight to prolong the research and therapy in hope that all of their patients will recover from the un-deadly virus.
In the midst of all this subtext is Senan, a recently cured patient who has been released from the confines of the dreary Maze treatment center to live with his sister-in-law. Unlike many families who have shunned their cured relatives, the widow of Senan’s brother feels compassion for the formerly afflicted and opens her home to him even though she has a young son. As Senan comes to terms with his horrifying actions during his affliction, he must also contend with a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with one of his “friends” from the treatment center whose more radical attitude concerning the general ostracism of the cured becomes increasingly unwelcome.
There is a lot going on in THE CURED. Aside from the typical terror associated with the threat of monsters who will eat you alive, there is also a solid dose of subtext and social commentary. There’s an entire swath of people who, by no fault of their own, are being displaced in their own country where they are no longer welcome, political movements based on fear perpetuating a mob mentality that has even the most even tempered citizens questioning their own motives, and the notion of forgiveness and the difficulty in reconciling complicated emotions regarding a loved one who has done the unthinkable. Like I said, there’s a lot going on in THE CURED, and no doubt different viewers will take away their own double meanings from the complex story.
At the core of the film is a pervasive ominous tone that Freyne aptly utilizes to keep the threat of imminent danger ever present. Though much of the actual gore in THE CURED is implied, various flash back sequences of the plague in full swing keep the scare factor on point. Unlike many recent takes on the genre that feature bits of comic relief, Freyne instead keeps THE CURED dead serious without even a hint of a wink or nudge all the way to the film’s uncertain conclusion.
THE CURED hits select theaters and On Demand on February 23, so check it out!
Until next time,
Aka Annette Kellerman