Wednesday, June 20, 2018

THE CURED (2018) (Scream Factory Blu-ray Review)

THE CURED (2018) 

Label: Scream Factory/IFC Midnight
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 95 Minutes 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.40:1) 
Director: David Freyne
Cast: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham, Paula Malcomson

For his directorial debut writer/director David Freyne went with a well worn sub-genre of horror, the zombie/infected film, a genre that has been nearly played-out, so much so that I groan a little bit when a new one hits the shelves. However, credit where credit is due, Freyne proves you can offer something new to the rage-infected genre with this quietly intense indie horror-drama in the vein of 28 Days Later. It opens by setting up the world, Ireland has been ravaged for several years (at least four though it's not outright defined) by a plague known as The Maze Virus. Those that were infected - through the usual means; bites and bodily fluids - turned onto violent, flesh-munching psychos, but by the time the film opens a cure has been devised and administered to the infected, and about seventy-five percent of the formerly infected have been cured and rehabilitated in government facilities, but their transition back into society is fraught with multi-faceted issues. The infected are cursed to have all the memories of the horrible, uncontrollable violence they committed while they were infected, adding to the complications are that not all of the non-infected survivors are willing to forgive and forget what "the cured" did while they were infected, treating them as second class citizen or worse, no different or better than the infected. 

The story focuses in one of the afflicted survivors named Senan (Sam Keeley, This Must Be The Place) as he leaves the government run rahab facility and is taken in by his sympathetic sister-in-law, an American named Abbie (Ellen Page, Inception) who is the widow of his late brother who perished during the virus outbreak. Senan is haunted by the recurring memories of his infected rage-state and the terrible things he did, one act in particular he hides away from Abbie, knowing it would threaten their tenuous relationship. While he was still living in the facility Senan befriended an intense man named Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), who while infected was a bit of a alpha-wolf to the horde of infected, a once prominent lawyer who been disowned by his father and has been reduced to the menial task of sweeping the streets, and he's resentment for this downturn in life.

It turns out that about twenty-five percent of the infected are resistant to the cure and remain in a rage state, remaining locked away in a prison-like government facility, where Dr. Joan Lyons (Paula Malcomson) continues to work on a new strain of the cure she hopes will return the resistant to a non-rage state. However, public opinion and military leaders leans towards humanely killing the cure-resistant infected which, which allows Conor to marshal other like-minded cured into a full-on insurrection, preaching that once the resistant are killed the cured will be next, and he's probably not wrong about that, the film does a decent job building that tension.

As infected films go this one is sort of subdued, it's dealing with the personal, emotional and societal impact in the aftermath of The Maze Virus, focusing in on the characters of Senan and Conor as they both deal with life after the virus, each coping with what they've done in different ways, struggling to reintegrate back into or lash out at a prejudiced society who has turned against them. Conor's the extremist of the pair, while Senan chooses a more redemptive  approach, choosing to stay on at the government facility to aid the search for a new cure for the resistant infected. For a small budget movie the film is keen on big ideas with some nice world-building happening in the background all the while, which it does without over-stretching it's indie budget. 

While the film does eventually go a more typical infected route at the end with the hordes of resistant being unleashed the film really digs into the more quietly intense drama of the situation as it explores the ideas and emotional toll, largely without the usually requisite gore, though it does get a nice punch of blood and action at the end. I found that the themes and ideas explored stayed with me after watching it, which is more than I can say for most indie zombie/infected films I watched these days. 

The single-disc Blu-ray arrives on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in association with IFC Midnight in 1080p HD framed in 2:40:1 widescreen, audio comes by way of both surround and stereo English DTS-HD MA mixes with optional English subtitles. Extras on the disc are limited to a making-of piece and trailer, plus this release comes with a sleeve of reversible artwork.   

Special Features: 

- Behind the Scenes Featurette (6 min) HD 
- Theatrical Trailer (2 min) HD 

The Cured (2018) is not a typical infected film, it's thoughtful and nuanced, the cast is uniformly good, it while it lacks some visceral punch you might be expecting from the sub-genre. I think that if you're looking for something familiar but also trying to do something different this is worth checking out, but if you're just looking for some rage-carnage with oodles of gore you might wanna look elsewhere.


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