THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE

PrintE-mail Written by Samantha Ward

Based on the 1999 novel Downers Grove written by Michael Hornburg, this American thriller tells the story of an apparent curse that enchants the Downers Grove High School. Every year without fail a senior dies at the high school.

As the senior prom approaches, angst and tension fills the air as it's only a matter of time before the curse claims its next victim. Our main protagonist, Chrissie (Bella Heathcote), just so happens to be in her senior year, and she expects to graduate and has plans for college. She's always been skeptical of the curse but her paranoid best friend, Tracey (Penelope Mitchell), believes she may be the next victim. After attending a house party, Chrissie becomes threatened by a jackass jock, Chuck (Kevin Zegers), who sexually assaults her, but in retaliation she pokes his eye out. With his football career ruined, Chuck is angry and wants revenge.

The film looks crisp and sharp, is cleverly shot, but as the story evolves and Chrissie appears to be having an assortment of visions, the edits are jarring and lack creativity as they don't fit into the rest of the aesthetics of the film. Perhaps they are trying to show the effects of the curse, however it takes you completely away from the story. It also has a retro ‘90s vibe from the style of shooting to the costumes, but the end result is rather lacklustre. Chrissie is a Plain Jane, but for some reason all the guys are creepily fixated on her and she remains blissfully ignorant of this despite being in a life-threatening situation.

Could it all be the curse or unfortunate circumstances? It's a rather predictable plot for the most part. There were hopes that this would be a supernatural horror given the title, but instead you get a second rate teen psycho thriller. With the narration from Chrissie giving all the exposition, there is little left for the imagination. Co-written by American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis, there is no surprise that a large theme in the film is aggressive and violent masculinity mixed with a cliché of characters who seem to consistently go against their own character traits; Chrissie is reluctant to attend the house party but still decides to get wasted, then when her own life and her friends are threatened she gives in to throwing her own house party. Everything is all too convenient; the police's hands are tied, the parents are out of town, the brother is too high to be overwhelmed by this. Even in the hopes that the curse is all an allegory for teen angst, self-destruction and mere idiocy, the execution is too obvious with no originality. It's all rather underwhelming and by the end you don't care if this curse is the real deal or not.

THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: DERICK MARTINI / SCREENPLAY: BRET EASTON ELLIS, DERICK MARTINI / STARRING: BELLA HEATHCOTE, PENELOPE MITCHELL, KEVIN ZEGERS, LUCAS TILL, HELEN SLATER / RELEASE DATE: TBC
 


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