After great films like Train to Busan and The Girl with All the Gifts, I was ready for another stand out Zombie movie. Low and behold, Irish writer/director David Freyne got me in a seat at New York’s IFC Center for his psychological horror-thriller, The Cured. The conflict that arises early on has a fresh premise that emphasizes the hoarseness of humanity through blatant racism and sociological restraint.
In this universe, the Maze virus turns people into cannibals, but with a cure… many were saved. However, there’s a percentage of the un-dead that is still resistant. This particular group is locked up in a containment center awaiting an updated version of the cure, but many of the people in Dublin rather they be killed off – Reassuring the populace that every inch of these monsters are eradicated.
This film is about the struggle of assimilating back into what must feel like a foreign space and the violence that can ensue when you treat people less than. Much of the focus centers around Senan (Sam Keeley), and the American wife (Ellen Page) of his dead brother, whose stuck in Dublin with their young son due to immigration and contamination laws. Her main duty in life is to protect her son as she tries to accept Senan back into their home.
An intriguing aspect to this film is the brutality, in a sense, involving the vaccination that know one could have imagined. The cured… can remember everything they’ve done while they were infected. That comes with some heavy baggage and nightmares because as long as you have nightmares, you have a conscious.
Lathered with much melancholia and hatred, Senan finds it hard to stomach the things he’s done, failing to see how his best mate Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) wants full control over him. The same control Conor had as an alpha when deciding to infect Senan with the virus while forcing him to kill his own brother. Under the maze virus, the un-dead determine who would be turned and who would be eaten through an invisible network of communication. Creepily, even after being cured, they still share a similar conveyance that meshes together as a force against the constant backlash from their country.
The movie does struggle a bit in hiding the direction it intends to go in, therefore at times, making it rather predictable. But that doesn’t mean the series of event which take place aren’t still gut-wrenching, because they most definitely are. That said, I also wish it spent more time building Abbie and Senan’s relationship while explaining the ending clearer. Instead the film offers an exposition via newscaster voice overs, of what brought about the revolt.
Even though I found myself confused in regards to the new vaccine, and whether or not it would reach the infected, I was still blown away by the amplification of tension throughout the film and the performance of the characters. I mean, it doesn’t have a happy ending of people overcoming evil because not every cured person had nightmares, in some instances that evil has been there all along – On both sides of the fight. Whilst good people like Senan and Abbie being left in its wake.
The cured’s revolt caused bloodshed to get what they wanted… equality. But what The Cured asks is – How hard do you push “others” away, while taking away their dignity, taking away their ability to be loved and expecting them not to crack? There are a long list of fear-based inequalities in our cumulative world history and present day.
One that I thought of when watching the film was the ongoing Syrian conflict and immigration of refugees via the cured. How many people have to die before there’s change? And what do they have to show you to make you look at them as human once more?
By Amanda Nova