Curs lite

Wes Craven’s new werewolf flick caters to the PG-13 crowd at the expense of real chills

THE EYES HAVE IT Unfortunately for hardcore horror fans, Christina Ricci who plays a werewolf victim in <i>Cursed</i> isn’t given enough to scream about.

THE EYES HAVE IT Unfortunately for hardcore horror fans, Christina Ricci who plays a werewolf victim in Cursed isn’t given enough to scream about.

Starring Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg. Directed by Wes Craven. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

We’ve got trouble, folks, right here in Horror City, with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for PG-13. That tentacle of the Mouse Factory known as Dimension Films, the same folks that brought you the brief disruption of the horror genre back in the mid-'90s in the form of Scream and all its ironic knockoffs, is back, pushing the tweener-friendly horror film.

I sorta feel sorry for director Wes Craven here. He kicked down with what seems to be a nasty-assed werewolf film, but The Suits in pursuit of the kindercamp mall money excised all the juice. I’d say that Cursed was all sizzle and no steak, but here even the sizzle has been waved aside. A werewolf film without gratuitous mayhem is a pointless exercise, sort of like porn with all the smutty stuff removed. As in boring and sort of embarrassing to watch.

But then, it’s not all The Suits’ fault.

Again, Craven and scripter Kevin Williamson have paired up to act as a genre fun tourniquet. To give Williamson his due, Scream and The Faculty were well written, clever and amusing. Too bad that the box office success of Scream inspired a decade-long excess of insipid knock-offs. Unfortunately, Cursed gives the impression that the man has run out of creative steam and has resorted to digging through his attic for musty screenplays that he had thrown aside before hitting his stride.

Kicking it off with a nod to the opening of The Lost Boys, with a faux-punk band struggling to cover Sam the Sham’s “Little Red Riding Hood” (to give you an idea of the creative depths snorkled here in search of irony), Cursed finds Cristina Ricci and her brother bitten by a werewolf and struggling with the infection. It’s sorta cool in a way ‘cause it makes ’em sorta sexy to everyone else, but it sorta sucks ‘cause, like, all that hair and stuff, right?

Anyway, to remove the curse they gotta kill the one that infected them, but it’s all cool ‘cause it’s pretty obvious who “the one” is from the get-go. Dude.

Which means abiding for an hour as red herrings are wiggled about before the cake-cutter ending. Screw the internal logic and throw in narrative cheats to keep the misdirections moving. Granted, there’s about a half-hour toward the end where the flick hits its stride and offers up a nice balance of chills and amusement—just before it sputters to a close as if everyone involved had just shrugged their shoulders and muttered, “Screw it, this sucks.”

Ricci has great Scream Queen eyes but unfortunately is given nothing to scream about.

A pale imitation of a horror film.