I’ve been writing about the living dead for over twenty years and have been watching zombie movies for even longer. There’s been such a plethora of stories over the last decade in particular that it seems harder than ever to come up with an original premise and yet, people keep doing so. Perhaps that’s because zombies are so very adaptable: wherever there are people there exists the potential for the reanimated dead!
After hearing the title talked about quite a bit last year, I was interested to recently catch up with THE CURED, a 2017 post-post-apocalyptic zombie movie set in Ireland. I’m pleased to report that the film a). is very good and b). has a reasonably original approach.
A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.
I’ll just qualify my earlier comment – this movie takes a reasonably original approach to the living dead. First impressions are that this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It looks like 28 WEEKS LATER and feels like that old BBC TV series IN THE FLESH with a healthy dash of less well-known zombie horrors such as PORTRAIT OF A ZOMBIE. The rehabilitation of previously blood-crazed plague victims and their reintegration into society is clearly something we’ve seen previously, and yet THE CURED has enough to say for itself to make it feel like this is the first time such a story has been told. Here the previously infected remember what they did while they were diseased and in some ways this makes them as much the victims as those they killed. The friction between the infected, the uninfected and the previously infected gives director and writer David Freyne layer after layer to work with, and he exploits the conflicts between these differing groups to the full.
As always, it’s the characters that are important in stories like this, and THE CURED wisely focuses on a relatively small group of people. The film gradually untangles the relationships between the pre- and post-infected world and like all good zombie stories, leaves the audience asking who the monsters really are. I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by giving away the fact that the unstable equilibrium in society at the beginning of the film doesn’t last – it was never really going to, was it? – and yet Freyne delivers a story which still feels unpredictable and complete.
The cast are uniformly strong, and it’s great to see big stars like Ellen Page and Paula Malcomson in a film like this. It’s a shame THE CURED wasn’t noticed more widely, yet I can understand why. Zombie stories like this often get lost in the gulf between those which are blood-soaked and exist purely to satisfy the gore-hounds, and other more considered and cerebral tales which have something deeper to say. Whether the intended allegory here is the refugee crisis, the AIDS epidemic, the troubled history of Ireland, or something else entirely I’m not sure, but I don’t think it matters. I recommend you watch THE CURED and take from it what you want. If you’re looking for a well-made, post-post-apocalyptic movie that’ll make you think, then you’ll be as satisfied as I was.
The film is available from all the usual places and is currently streaming on NETFLIX in the UK and Amazon Prime in the US.