The Cured (3 stars)

The Cured

Highly promising debut from David Freyne that takes a fresh look at the zombie film

While there are thrilling things afoot in horror, with recent works like Get Out and A Quiet Place flipping genre convention on its head, the zombie film continues to shuffle in the same direction. Films that dare to be different, like The Girl with All the Gifts and Ravenous, are rare, which means that The Cured's premise is something to get excited about. Yet, while it may contain some clever ideas, it hasn't got quite enough bite.

Writer-director David Freyne is concerned not with the outbreak of a zombie virus, but instead with the new realities of life some years down the line. While the Irish countryside houses pockets of the infected, with the rest caged in internment camps, cities like Dublin are largely safe. It's not just survivors returning home – with the discovery of a cure, the previously infected are being reintegrated into society (although some remain immune to the antidote).

In the case of Senan (Sam Keeley, in a superb performance), that means staying with his brother's widow Abbie (Ellen Page) and her young son. Senan, like all of the cured, can remember everything he did during the four years he was infected and suffers horrifying nightmares. He and fellow cureds like Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) must also face the prejudice of those who believe former zombies are not entitled to any form of redemption.

To set a story such as this in Ireland brings with it a wealth of historical and socio-political resonance, and the narrative also chimes with wider global issues of sectarianism, intolerance and immigration (the latter is particularly obvious with former barrister Conor now forced to be a cleaner and treated with violent contempt). Yet this allegorical tone often overwhelms other parts of the story; both the psychological impact of Senan's self-loathing and Conor's rapid journey to terrorism are not explored in any satisfactory detail.

Still, The Cured marks an auspicious debut for Freyne, who showcases an impressive eye for detail. Moments in which the soundtrack focuses on the rapid breathing of the infected, or a sign on the side of a bus that warns of the stages of the virus – 'Loss of reason. Numbness. Cannibalism' – are chilling in their simplicity.

Selected release from Fri 11 May.

The Cured

  • 3 stars
  • 2017
  • 1h 35min
  • Directed by: David Freyne
  • Written by: David Freyne
  • Cast: Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor

Years after a zombie outbreak, the discovery of a cure sees former zombies (Keeley, Vaughan Lawlor) trying to reintegrate themselves into a wary and hostile society. The allegorical implications sometimes overwhelm the story, and although a highly promising debut from Freyne, it could have used more (as it were) bite.

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