Writer-director David Freyne must be commended for a fresh take on the almost-tired-at-this-point zombie genre with The Cured, an Ellen Page-led ensemble story set in a small village in Ireland. Two years earlier, a deadly virus swept through the town, transforming the denizens into what basically amounts to zombies. But a talented doctor actually developed a cure, and the inflicted who survived are finally getting out of a long quarantine, and now they'll be placed in housing, given jobs and reintegrated into regular society.
The catch? The cure is ineffective for 25 percent of the populace, and even those for whom it works can remember every single thing they did while zombi-fied. Everybody hates them for the acts they committed, which leads to equally tragic levels of PTSD and horrific nightmares, but also to a life as second-class citizens.
One such cured is Senan (Sam Keeley), a young man with a story perhaps more tragic than most. He's given a home with his photojournalist sister-in-law (Ellen Page), though this may be because she's only truly aware of what he's done from a theoretical standpoint. Meanwhile, Senan's pal from quarantine, Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, The Inflitrator), was once a lawyer and strongly dislikes his new station in life; a plan is hatched to free those who are still sick to sow the seeds of chaos. Mayhem ensues, everyone's worst fears are realized.
Keeley brings a palpable sadness to a man grappling with horrible events beyond his control, and Vaughan-Lawlor carries much of the weight as a silver-tongued monster who may even be worse post-cure. But while scenes between them are generally emotionally charged and riveting, Page's nosy Abbie, an American, they say, who can't get home—though we imagine it's because the Irish brogue was probably beyond her ability—is beyond boring. We begin to dread her scenes and long for Keeley's understated trauma, and it's really his film anyway.
The pacing and editing begin to undercut the interesting tale, however, and the passage of time becomes unclear. Tense moments are over-punctuated with slogging scenes about family, and the payoff we get isn't really what such an interesting idea deserved. Still, in a sea of zombie movies that boil down to little more than sheer violence, The Cured enters an exclusive pantheon beside other notable genre-definers such as 28 Days Later and ultimately proves a capable and refreshing movie.
+Very cool take on a tired genre
-Ellen Page is boring; confusing timeline
Directed by Freyne
With Page, Keeley, Vaughan-Lawlor
Jean Cocteau Cinema, R, 95 min.