From the first minute of The Cured (directed by David Freyne), the deeply unsettling presence chaos and violence made itself tangibly felt. An outbreak of a disease known as the Maze Virus has been supressed in Ireland and the infected people (for the most part) cured. The film begins with them returning to their lives, full remembering the cannibalistic savagery the virus forced them to perpetrate. Despite their 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 the unsettling feeling I mentioned above was created not only by the content, but the structure of how it was 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, created a great deal of tension. On occasion, a particularly violent or emotionally intense scene would erupt through the surface calm. Whilst the somewhat cheap nature of the jump-scares were not convincing, they were thematically very clever. They seemed analogous both to the virus outbreak that precedes The Cured 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 relies 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 film acts as a lens through which issues of agency, responsibility and the different sides that every story has can be viewed.
Watch the trailer for The Cured (released 11th May) here: