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The Cured is yet another post-apocalyptic thriller from the British Isles looking to put a fresh spin on zombies. And it does that — for a while. Set in a damn-near-desolate Ireland, the movie follows Senan (Sam Keeley), a tormented, formerly-infected carrier of the Maze Virus, which turns people into crazed, violent cannibals. Thanks to a cure, formerly rabid folk get to slide back into society. Of course, many of the non-carriers are still kind of salty about that whole homicidal-rampage thing their neighbors went on, angrily expressing their disdain for them living nearby. Senan gets taken in by his American-born sister-in-law (Ellen Page), a single mom whose husband — his brother — was one of his first kills.
Indeed, Cured makes an ambitious attempt at being a zombie movie where the zombies are more misunderstood than villainous. Irish writer-director David Freyne does portray these tortured souls in a far more sympathetic light than the non-carrier humans, who act vicious and foam-mouthed not because of a virus but because they’re ignorant assholes. He even throws in some allegorical and sociopolitical elements, as these ex-killers eventually form an IRA-esque rebellion, led by Senan’s vengeful creep of a pal (Tom-Vaughan Lawlor) and start terrorizing people again.
Unfortunately, all of these factors fail to coalesce in the end, as the jumbled, manic finale builds to a messy implosion. But, hey, the climax does include Page going into big-bad-mama mode and popping caps in zombies’ asses. So, even though The Cured doesn’t quite excel at being both terrifying and thought-provoking, at least it gave Juno the opportunity to become a horror hero.
Directed by David Freyne
Opens February 23, IFC Center and Landmark 57