Thursday, October 25, 2018

31 Days of Dread--Day 25

The Cured; 2017; written and directed by David Freyne

Hordes of zombie films (and books and television shows and comics) have spread unchecked since George Romero unleashed the first bunch in 1968's Night of the Living Dead. With a few exceptions (1985's Return of the Living Dead, 2002's 28 Days Later, and 2013's World War Z to a lesser extent) the formula has remained pretty much untouched: something creates zombies, zombies run rampant, survivors keep trying to survive, rinse and repeat.

The Cured, however, is unique, and possibly the world's first post-zombie film. Set in Northern Ireland after a cure for the "Maze virus" has been found, it explores what happens when the formerly infected return to what's left of their friends and family. Complicating matters is that the cured remember everything that happened while under the virus's control, each bite and kill, leaving them with an especially grievous form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ellen Page stars as a mother of a small boy who's agreed to take in her cured brother-in-law, played by Sam Keeley. As he tries to reintegrate after four years of infection, he finds the world has become suspicious and often openly hostile to the cured. Echoes with the aftermath of the Irish Civil War, and the AIDS crisis to a lesser extent, are not incidental. In fact, they're kind of impossible to miss.

This isn't to say The Cured comes off as a cross between your average zombie flick and NPR's Morning Edition. (Would that make it Mourning Edition?) There's plenty of rising tension as the characters grapple with each other while the threat of another wave of infections grows, and plenty of zombie action once both sources of conflict reach their inevitable boiling points. 

But it's handled with a degree of intelligence and sensitivity that's new to the genre, making it a zombie film with... brains.

The Cured is available on streaming rental.

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