The Cured (2017)

JULY 24, 2018

GENRE: ZOMBIE
SOURCE: BLU-RAY (OWN COLLECTION)

This isn't a complaint (so, not a "first world problem") but I have a stack of Blu-rays near my couch that never seems to dwindle; for every one I manage to watch, I seemingly get three or four more, either for review, winning at trivia, or just gifted from friends who maybe forgot I don't watch this junk every day anymore. It's kind of a source for stress since I find myself unable to get rid of anything I haven't watched (or at least tried to), but the nice thing is that every now and then I find a minor gem like The Cured in that pile, justifying my whole "I gotta keep these" mentality. And now I can pass it on to someone with a "This is pretty good!" instead of a "Here, you throw this away" attitude.

And I want to stress that it is good, despite my plans to get rid of it instead of adding it to the permanent collection. I have made some great strides toward being someone who only owns the movies they plan to watch at least once again, preferably a couple times, as opposed to just owning every movie I like. Life's too short and I obviously don't get to watch as many movies as I'd like to anymore, so the idea of keeping a movie that I'm never going to watch again is unrelated to its merit. In fact, in a growing sub-sub-genre of zombie movies concerning cured zombies attempting to fold themselves back into society, it might be my favorite, or at least tied with The Returned (click the link before you argue - there's a few things with that title so you want to be sure we're thinking of the same one!). And even though it didn't have a lot of traditional zombie action, I think it would have made Romero proud, as it's one of the more socially conscious zombie films I've seen in quite a while.

As the opening text tells us, there was a typical kind of "infected" (think 28 Days Later, not undead rising from the graves) outbreak that nearly decimated Ireland, but a cure was found and 75% of the infected people are pretty much human again (nightmares and some nasty PTSD are the lingering after effects). The other 25%, "The Resistant", could not be cured for reasons unknown, and continue to be quarantined and are set to be humanely executed so that the virus can be definitively wiped out for good. However, some of the "Cured" feel a kinship with these people (who act more or less like traditional movie zombies; cannibalism is even mentioned, setting them apart from the 28 Days Later types they otherwise resemble) and mount protests to keep them alive, even resorting to more dangerous territory like throwing molotovs at empty (OR ARE THEY?!?!) homes of the military types that plan to wipe them all out.

It's not hard to see the parallels to real world issues regarding both immigration and people who are condemned because of their circumstances. Yes, the people who were infected are now cured and seemingly pose no threat, but they did terrible things when they were infected, and it isn't easy for our human characters (who were never infected) to separate the person they see before them now and the person that likely murdered people during their infected state. This is a very sore subject for our main characters, as our hero Senan now lives with his brother's wife Abbie (Ellen Page) and helps take up some of the responsibilities formerly held by his brother, who was killed during the outbreak. Since Senan's friend Conor seems to have a particular interest in Abbie (not a romantic one) and has advised Senan "not to tell her" about *something*, it doesn't take much of your brainpower to realize they are probably the ones responsible for the man's death. Abbie says more than once that the cured people shouldn't be treated as murderers when they had no control over their actions (and it's not like they asked to be infected), but can she hold up that resolve when it hits that close to home?

It's an interesting dilemma, and kind of the inverse of one I see happening a lot today, where people who voted for You Know Who now regret it because his monstrous policies and unchecked racist agenda have affected people they care about. People think they have the right answer for everyone else, but when it actually affects them, suddenly their tune changes. It's also an interesting "What if it were me?" kind of plot point, because I honestly don't know how I'd react to someone who hurt my family if they did so while under the influence of this kind of virus. Obviously I wouldn't BLAME them as I would a drunk driver or idiot with a gun, but could I let them stay in my home, or be near my other loved ones? It's an impossible thing to deal with, so I guess it's a good thing zombies aren't real as I'll never have to know.

Then there's the military folk, who seem to think that the cured people are just as unworthy of living as the ones who are still infected, akin to how certain people in charge seem to believe that if you're from a particular Arab nation you're automatically a terrorist. Hero Senan is clearly no threat to anyone, but as a former infected he has to meet with some army asshole much like an ex-con has to meet with a parole officer, and the man treats him with a similar amount of contempt, confident that Senan and the thousands of other cured people will end up reverting back to murderous thugs. I won't spoil whether or not they do, but if you're not particularly interested in the more dramatic side of things then the final act of the movie should scratch your itch, as there's plenty of action and even some minor gore, plus an honest to god perfectly executed jump scare that got me about as good as the one in Dawn of the Dead where the zombie poses as a mannequin and lunges at Roger out of nowhere.

But honestly, I was more into the drama parts of the film. I've seen the action beats from the film's final 30 minutes before, and while they're well done I wouldn't say they were particularly compelling, and the film ends on a rather vague note that I didn't appreciate (because it involves a kid, and dammit, I'm a very sensitive father! I WANT CLOSURE!!!). But even though there have been other "the zombies are OK now" stories in the past, the numerous allusions to the increasingly terrifying real world (all the more impressive considering this was made in 2016) and genuinely compelling tragic circumstances surrounding our protagonists made it far more worthy of my attention than I was expecting from a "pile" movie. I've kind of lost the plot on zombie fare as of late; I stopped watching Walking Dead a few seasons ago and the last undead movie I reviewed here was over a year ago (which means it might very well be the last one I saw not counting rewatches of old faves), so I guess I'd be open for another NOTLD ripoff with a bunch of people holed up in a (fill in the blank) fighting off zombies and each other, but I'd be much more likely to get up to speed if there were more movies like this out there, where plot and characters take precedent over how many different ways a zombie could be dispatched, and the "evil" humans had an actual argument to consider.

What say you?

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