REVIEW: The Cured
One thing that I always try to do as a horror lover is to never fall into the trap that I often see many other genre fans stumbling upon. The feeling of “fatigue” with a certain subset of horror is common once such a thing becomes popular for the time being, especially in the mainstream. After a while it seems like once you’ve seen 20 of them, you’ve seen them all. I get it. Zombie movies have been the victim of this for the last few years, and since they had been around for decades and decades even before shows like The Walking Dead, it can be hard not to think that there is nothing new to explore there. And yet, we still got the emotionally-charged and wonderful Train to Busan in 2016. Another one I always try to champion is 2015’s Re-Kill, released as part of After Dark’s 8 Films to Die For. So there is still plenty of fun to be had with our favorite people-eaters.
The newest of this bunch is the Irish film The Cured, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and will hit US theaters on February 23, 2018. Written and directed by David Freyne, The Cured is set in Dublin years after the Maze virus has turned its citizens into raging, cannibalistic killers. A cure has been found that returns the infected back to normal again (25% remain immune to the antidote, however), though they still retain the memory of what they did while under the control of the virus. Now, these cured individuals are being reintegrated back into society again, where they are not wanted by some people.
One of these cured people is Senan, played by Sam Keeley, who is taken in by his sister-in-law Abbie (Ellen Page) and her young son. Her husband Luke, and Senan’s brother, died during the initial outbreak, and through flashbacks the audience slowly realizes what happened to him and how it could affect Senan and Abbie’s relationship. At the same time, there is a group of Cured working to fight against the way they are being treated by the rest of society. With heavy influences of both 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, The Cured takes the more dramatic approach to the story, exploring the morality and social commentary within.
This is the strongest aspect of the film, as there are many ways to look at the metaphors presented here. Those that have been cured have strong feelings of guilt for what they did while infected, but how much can you blame them? Is forgiveness and trust truly possible in this new world? One could look at it like when violent offenders are released from prison. The restrictions that are placed on the cured after they are let out of quarantine are much like probation. They have to take crappy jobs, and face harsh scrutiny and protests from people who don’t want them in their neighborhoods (these same factors also bring up parallels to immigration). The virus is still technically inside these individuals, so who is to say that they won’t lash out on anybody ever again? And yet, how can we expect them to really be normal again when they are not welcome from the get-go? All this is brilliantly brought forth in The Cured, and it provides not only great conflict within the story of the film, but also within the mind of the audience. You really start to ask yourself if you could ever trust a former zombie, or if you would have the capacity for compassion.
The Cured is a bit light on the actual zombie action for most of the film, but it does bring in some small differences in the way they behave. The infected are able to communicate with each other in some way and are able to work together like a pack to kill and choose who they infect. When the action does hit, we see the infected as the fast-moving, vicious killing machines, so there is a good amount of blood and carnage. However, it is the characters and the different relationships between them that are really at the forefront here and what makes the movie interesting. One of the most heartbreaking relationships that could have done with some more exploration is between the scientist who found the cure and a resistant affected whom she is trying to save. A good zombie movie is one that gives us good characters to follow, and this one does that very well. I haven’t given up on zombies yet, because I know there are still great stories like the one in The Cured to be told.