Haunting, frightening, and hypnotic are three words that perfectly describe Sean Ellis’ remarkable thrill journey of unvarnished horror. To be sure, Ellis’ horror film is spine-chilling and not for the faint of heart. The Cursed is a terrifying, supernatural werewolf story with a very atmospheric set-up, a plethora of arresting visuals, and a plethora of death sequences that are sure to send shivers down your spine. It premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival under the rather evocative title, Eight for Silver.
Prepare yourself for today’s video, in which we will look at Sean Ellis’ The Cursed, one of the tensest horror films ever made. Furthermore, we strongly advise you to see this film on the largest screen possible. Are you curious as to why? Well, the bigger the experience, the better!
The Cursed – Explained In Detail
The opening sequence of the movie takes us, viewers, back to the year 1917 on the battlefield of The Somme. Amidst a very heated battle, a British captain gets heavily injured and is taken into a medical camp for immediate treatment. Diagnosed to have been hit by three bullets in the stomach, the camp doctor starts operating on the captain. The doctor is able to remove the bullets from his body when he discovers another one inside and is startled to see it is made out of silver.
The next scene takes the audience to the arrival of an adult woman inside a huge manor. She is seen looking through a family portrait when she along with the audience is taken 35 years into the past. It is the late nineteenth century; we get a peek into the Laurent family – Land Baron Seamus, his wife Isabelle, their children Charlotte and Edward and it go without saying that there is certainly a bit of tension between the husband and the wife. With time, a Romani community arrives and settles on Seamus’ territory.
They not only claim that the land is their property but also show proof that dates back to some 80 years. This leads to Seamus having a discussion with the fellow townspeople and together, they decide to massacre the entire colony the very next day. The female leader of the clan post getting an intuition of a looming danger, hands over a box of silver coins to the male leader, and has the latter carve out a set of silver dentures, one that apparently looks like a wolf’s teeth for their protection.
As planned, Seamus carries out the brutal slaughter of the gypsy colony by shooting them and setting everything on fire. With the clan leaders getting captured while trying to escape, they are given the most horrific of deaths. First, the male leader is tied to a cross, his hands and feet are hacked off, and then his body is hoisted as a scarecrow. As for the female leader, she is buried alive with silver fangs.
Initially, it all begins with Charlotte and Edward getting tormented by dreadful nightmares of the scarecrow as well as the silver fangs. At the same time, a certain pathologist named John McBride is also seen passing through town looking for the gypsies but he does not get a definite answer about them from the townspeople. One day, while Charlotte and Edward are playing with the rest of the other children, a boy called Timmy tells all of them that he has seen the scarecrow.
Whilst taking them to the site, he makes all the children promise first that they would not utter anything about it to anyone because if Seamus gets to know of it, he would evict Timmy’s entire family. All the children agree to his terms and Timmy leads them to the location.
With Edward telling all of them that they are not allowed to be there in the first place, Timmy asks everyone about the nightmares. It appears that all of the children are haunted by the same visions. Suddenly, Timmy is overwhelmed by this strong desire to dig up the silver fangs and he rushes to do it. Of course, Edward tries to stop him from doing so but Timmy is swift enough to lay his hands on the buried box. Wasting no time further, he even places the silver dentures inside his mouth and ends up biting Edward’s throat.
Of course, the rest of the children are appalled to see Timmy behaving like this, and horrified, they run away. A terrified Charlotte is able to reach her home and while she does not give away details, she is able to let her father know of the situation. Seamus is seen coming back with a critically wounded Edward. A doctor is called right away and post-inspection, he calls it an animal attack.
Later that night, Charlotte is awoken by screams coming from Edward’s room. Inside, she is petrified to find moving vines growing out of his body. She goes to alert her parents but when Seamus comes to his room, Edward is nowhere to be found. Worried, he immediately calls for a search party and starts looking for his son but they are unable to find him anywhere.
In the meantime, the local law enforcement Alfred Moliere reaches out to John and asks him to help him out in the missing case of Edward. When John asks him why should he help, Alfred tells him that the whole thing might be connected with the missing gypsies that the former is on the lookout for.
The next morning, Charlotte chances upon Timmy at the local church. Apparently, he has no memory of what happened to him; all he can recall are the nightmares and the fact that he dug up the silver fangs. Charlotte tells him how he attacked Edward and bit him with those silver fangs.
Timmy is highly disturbed to hear that and asks her if she has spoken about it to anyone. Charlotte reminds him of the promise that they all made to him. With Timmy reading out a passage from a book, he tells her about the origins of the silver fangs.
Tearing apart the page, he hands it over to Charlotte and tells her that he has hidden the silver fangs underneath the sacred grounds of the church. With the duo getting discovered by Charlotte’s maid inside the confessional, Timmy runs out of the church. Believing that he saw Edward, he follows him into the forest only to get butchered to death by an unseen creature.
Coming back to Alfred and John, the duo visit Seamus at his manor, who tells them that the current situation is getting out of control. Together, they visit the site where Timmy’s dead body has been discovered. It is a brutal sight and looking at the wounds and gashes on the body, John calls it a wild animal attack although he has his doubts regarding it. He further proposes to extend his stay to help out Seamus look for his boy and Seamus offers him a place to stay inside his manor.
John starts probing deeper into the matter, asking Seamus about the events of that particular day when Edward went missing. As he scans the entire house, he notices blood on the outside door and tells Seamus to board all the doors and windows of the first floor immediately as a precaution. Later that night, even John has a similar nightmare as the rest of the children and gets woken up. The audience also learns about him having a wife and daughter but we don’t know about their current whereabouts.
The next night, John is seen taking a sample of the dried-up blood on the outside door and studying it. When he takes a bit of his own blood, Edward’s blood is seen to bond with it and alter his own blood cells. It is precisely then that he hears a noise of a beast outside, one that is trying to get inside the house. John even gets a peep at what looks like a wolf but when he goes outside to check, the creature is not there anymore.
Seamus holds a meeting at his place with the rest of the townspeople and introduces John to them. He further tells them all about how John has offered to aid him in finding out the beast who is behind all the attacks. When questioned about the animal, John calls it a wolf. Two more townspeople are attacked and killed; Anne-Marie, the third one gets bitten and narrowly manages to escape back into the town and tell everyone what she saw.
When John learns about Anne-Marie, he rushes to see her at her place but does not find her there. Anne-Marie, who has fled into the woods by then is already in the midst of her transformation. Upon coming to terms with the fact that the rate of infection is literally spreading like wildfire, John asks Seamus to gather everyone at the church and barricade each exit and entry point.
Back at the manor later that night, John is seen offering Isabelle a drink and telling her the story of how a similar wolf was responsible for the death of his wife and daughter. After finding a parallel gypsy connection to John’s story, Isabelle discloses Seamus’ brutality against the gypsies or in short, the origin of the curse. The next day, John sets a trap for the beast as planned and is successful in not only tricking one of the creatures but also killing it.
Next, he gathers most of the townspeople’s elders at Seamus’ stable and brings the dead creature there to perform an autopsy. As he cuts open the creature with his knife, something from its inside starts to move. It’s Anne-Marie who starts screaming. John tells everyone that she has not died yet but she also cannot be brought back and the only option left and the right thing to do is to kill her.
With one of the town elders shooting her dead, Seamus wonders if his son is also destined to have the same fate. With John blaming Seamus for everything that is taking place, the latter decides to end what he started in the first place. The next day, he is seen leading a major hunting party, one with a horde of hunting dogs so as to track down the beast.
As for John, he eventually gets to know the location of the silver fangs from Charlotte and goes to the church with her. Charlotte hands him over the box with the silver fangs inside. Back at the manor, the creature brutally attacks the maid, Anais, when she is seen doing laundry outside. The beast also ends up biting her but leaves on hearing the sound of the hunting dogs nearby. John, on the other hand, melts the silver fangs and makes four silver bullets out of them.
With Seamus coming back to his manor post an unsuccessful stint, he chances upon Anais, who has not only managed to do her own dressing by then but also conceal her injuries from the family for the time being. With John observing the bloodied white linen outside, he ends up questioning the Laurent family. Seamus has had enough of John and asks him to leave the very next morning.
As John waits outside for the beast to appear, Anais begins her transformation inside her room in the manor. Seamus, post-hearing the agonizing screams coming from somewhere inside the house, decides to check things out only to get attacked by a fully transformed Anais.
The ensuing brawl between Seamus and the beast knocks down a candlestick setting the curtains of the room on fire. John asks Isabelle to look for Charlotte and goes to the stable while looking for Seamus. There, he sees the beast lying dead and finds Seamus next to it, who tells him that the beast was Anais and that he got bitten before he managed to shoot her dead. Seamus upon realizing that he is fated to transform and attack his very own family sets himself on fire right in front of John.
Speaking of the fire in Anais’ room, it has already started spreading to the other rooms. Isabelle post finds Charlotte back in her room trying to escape outside from the burning manor but the plan of the duo gets interrupted when they chance upon the final beast inside the very manor blocking their way out. Terrified, both of them are forced to hide in one of the rooms for some time and wait out the beast.
Finally, they are able to meet John outside and the trio is seen running their way towards the church taking shelter there for the night and preparing themselves to pursue the beast the next morning. Later that night with everyone sleeping, Isabelle starts praying to God and asking him to show her away. Suddenly, she is able to hear a voice, one that sounds like her son Edward asking her to let him in.
An impatient Isabelle opens the barricaded church door only to let the creature gain entry inside. It goes without saying that it is a complete massacre with the beast brutally slaughtering most of the townspeople inside. Amidst all of this, John is finally able to take an aim at the beast when a delusional Isabelle stands right in between him and the creature. Of course, the beast attacks Isabelle, and John left with no other options is forced to shoot the silver bullet right through Isabelle into the creature.
Both of them fall to the ground; Isabelle dies moments after she hugs Edward, who by the way has transformed back to his human self by then. Later, Charlotte is seen handing John the remaining silver bullets that she found on the ground and telling him that Edward does not remember anything. With the manor completely burnt down and their parents dead, the brother-sister duo is adopted by John.
The movie comes back to the beginning scene. The wounded captain is disclosed to be an adult Edward and the silver bullet that was taken out from his body by the camp doctor happens to be the same one that John had shot him with. Unfortunately, Edward succumbed to his injuries on the operating table.
The woman looking through the family portrait is also revealed to be an adult Charlotte, who has come to meet an elderly John, who is probably on his deathbed. The flick ends with a close-up shot of all the four silver bullets placed right of the family portrait.
Why Should You Watch The Movie?
Here’s addressing every gore-hound, Sean Ellis’ The Cursed boasts plenty of scenes that have been shot in an unwavering birds-eye fashion, and oh, all of them are effective. There is this constant eeriness throughout the run time of 113 minutes and who else but Ellis to give full credits to for that.
In case you did not know, he is also the cinematographer of the film and does a spectacular job in setting up the perfect mood. And, to top things, Robin Foster’s unsettling background score adds an uninterrupted sense of dread to the movie, one that is topped with rich imageries. The flick is a mysterious blend of its own folklore and a rather refreshing take on the well-worn concept of werewolves.
Speaking of the highlight of the movie, there is a particular scene that shows an autopsy being performed on the beast and a human being apparently alive inside mutating into something. To those, who have seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, you will see the similarities with the 1982 movie’s famous dog transformation scene.