From the first minute of The Cured (directed by David Freyne), the deeply unsettling presence of chaos and violence makes itself tangibly felt. An outbreak of a disease known as the Maze Virus has been suppressed in Ireland and the infected people (for the most part) cured. The film begins with them returning to their lives, fully remembering the cannibalistic savagery the virus forced them to perpetrate. Despite these citizens’ trauma, guilt and dehumanisation, the rest of society variously bullies, attacks and vilifies the formerly infected with increasing violence.
For such a dramatic context, The Cured is surprisingly unassuming, and the hellish consequences that the virus has on interpersonal relationships as well as society at large are deftly presented in a powerfully realistic fashion. For example, the dialogue is like enough to normal speech as to seem almost improvised, and this is also a testament to the quality of the acting from Sam Keeley (Senan, the main character) Ellen Page (Abbie, Senan’s sister) and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Connor, Senan’s friend).
On that note, it is worth mentioning that this unsettling feeling is created not only by the content, but the structure of how it is presented. For the majority of the film, there is barely any soundtrack beyond some very light incidental music, and this quietness, intensified by the subdued dialogue, creates a great deal of tension. On occasion, a particularly violent or emotionally intense scene will erupt through the surface calm. Whilst the somewhat cheap nature of the jump-scares are not convincing, they are thematically very clever. They seem analogous both to the virus outbreak that set up the movie’s narrative and to the trauma-induced flashbacks to a particular moment in Senan’s infection.
One criticism of The Cured is that the connections between characters rely too heavily on these flashbacks to be very clear, and the viewer is left guessing the details of who’s who. In addition, the nature of the pacing – long periods of quietly building pressure punctuated by eruptions of violence – leads to sometimes sporadic and hurried transitions between scenes. Nevertheless, the overall effect of the film is horrifying, due in no small part to the fact it is told largely from the perspective of the former “zombies”. The brutality, suffering and enmity is totally captivating, and The Cured acts as a lens through which issues of agency, responsibility and the different sides that every story has can be viewed.
The Cured is released nationwide on 11th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Cured here: