The Cured, the debut film from writer and director David Freyne, is yet another film which shows the seemingly-infinite malleability of the zombie subgenre. The director casts his zombies as rampaging victims of an infection called the Maze virus, à la 28 Days Later, rather than the lumbering undead hordes of George Romero, which is a perfectly standard modern take.
However, where Freyne shines is looking at the aftermath of the outbreak, wherein 75% of the virus’ former victims as now the titular cured, with 25% seemingly immune to the antivirus. The cured are now monitored, catalogued, tattooed, and regarded as worse than second class citizens. If that wasn’t enough, they can remember every single thing they did while under the influence of the virus which turned them into murderous, cannibalistic monsters.
Within this milieu, we are introduced to Sam Keeley’s Senan, who has been cured, and moves in with his sister-in-law, Abbie (Ellen Page) and his nephew, Cillian (Oscar Nolan). Abbie’s husband - Senan’s brother - was killed by one of the affected by the virus. Senan has a dark secret hanging over his head which we see glimpses of in flashbacks, and it plagues him with nightmares.
The film shines at demonstrating the aftermath of a society ravaged by issues wherein the perpetrators are still walking around, and given the fact that the film is set in Dublin, one can’t help but see this as a zombie allegory for ‘the troubles’. It’s handled well, for the most part, and Keeley’s transformation from post-infection walking wounded into someone whose life might be on the mend, only to have it all rent asunder is pretty much heartbreaking.
The political elements are handled deftly, for the most part, although the rationale behind the big action piece which occupies The Cured’s final third is never really quite explained. Watching the cured being used and abused, though, it’s entirely possible those setting events in motion couldn’t necessarily put words to their own frustration, either.
For those who prefer their zombie films with more biting and less thinking, there’s a hefty amount of gore, although it’s not overdone. The Cured could’ve almost stood to have a touch more, honestly, as the flashbacks aren’t particularly graphic enough for the viewer to understand just why Senan is so affected. A touch more detail might’ve leant the film a more definitive sense of just what happened to the poor man, rather than focusing in on one specific event to the exclusion of all others.
In the end, The Cured is a film which will make the viewer think, jump at frights, and possibly cry twice during the last ten minutes. It’s effective and affecting in equal measures, and given that the only film dealing with the post-zombie world is the comedy film, Fido, David Freyne’s film is a much-needed examination.
THE CURED / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DAVID FREYNE / STARRING: ELLEN PAGE, SAM KEELEY, TOM VAUGHAN-LAWLOR, STUART GRAHAM / RELEASE DATE: MAY 14TH (UK), OUT NOW (US)