Directed by David Freyne
Starring Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham
BFI London Film Festival Review by Chris Olson
Exploring monstrous reactions to monstrous behaviour, David Freyne's dystopian thriller The Cured is an offshoot of the zombie genre that introduces a new element into the fray - people who were infected but have been cured of a zombie disease but are still ostracised by society. Sam Keeley plays one such Cured man called Senan, who is haunted by the nightmares of his actions whilst infected, and attempts to find redemption in a community that is overtly and violently against him.
Ellen Page plays the wife of someone who was killed during the outbreak which ravaged Ireland. Alone looking after her son, she volunteers to take in one of the Cured, Senan, during his rehabilitation. Another member of The Cured being rehabilitated is Connor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), a seemingly less repetant victim than Senan, his transition is tumultuous - being rejected by his father and regularly antagonised by his military overseer (Stuart Graham). Whilt Senan and Connor are members of the 75% of Cured, there still remains a large amount of people immune to the cure who present a huge peril to the population. Tensions rise as the government make plans to deal with the remaining menace alongside the growing disparity between norms and The Cured.
Visceral, gripping, and markedly intelligent, Freyne manages to offer up something original in this, let's face it, overpopulated genre. The Cured, serving up an array of horror conventions with remorseless glee (the sound design will give audiences heart palpitations for a week), also bites down hard on the social allegory side of things which is common for zombie movies. One of these themes is the idea of fighting fire with fire and the disastrous results which almost always ensue. Chaos and aggression seem to reign in this apocalyptic version of Ireland, with humanity left swirling into the drain as people on all sides react in increasingly volatile ways. What's great about Freyne's story is that no one is painted in a particularly good light, with norms going out of their way to make the lives of infected/cured a living nightmare, whilst the cured prepare to take up arms in order to reestablish themselves after so much indignity. Audiences will be hard stretched to miss the political overtones, but they are smartly delivered nonetheless.
The performances are excellent, especially Keeley as a determined lead. His convincing remorse at his behaviour whilst infected is well done, and Vaughan-Lawlor is a compelling antagonist. It is someone else, however, who utterly steals the show. Ellen Page is absolutely immense, turning in a phenomanally layered portrayal. Her inner struggle to cope with such a broken society and find forgiveness for the people who killed the father of their child is savagely emotional, left to unfold slowly for the audience with relish.
Not without its faults and low-budget issues, there is no reason why The Cured cannot stand toe-to-diseased-toe with the best of zombie flicks. It has a fierceness to the filmmaking that is what's needed, a rich and diverse tone to the story, and brilliant central performances which suck the viewer in.
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