Time Out says‘Cursed’ by name, cursed by nature. Reunited after the success of ‘Scream’, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson were meant to reinvent the werewolf genre. Shooting was halted after 11 weeks, however, when Miramax supremo Harvey Weinstein decided the film lacked a strong pay-off. Leading man Skeet Ulrich walked, make-up effects wizard Rick Baker threw in the towel, 90 per cent of the original footage was junked, the script was completely reworked and the male lead was recast – ‘Dawson’s Creek’ alumnus Joshua Jackson replacing the disaffected Ulrich. The bizarre thing is, the movie is not as bad as this chaos might suggest.
True, it lacks any innovative generic twists, and the ‘werewolves in Hollywood’ angle about which Craven enthused is conspicuously absent. Even so, the relationship between Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg’s werewolf-infected brother and sister has a wry, knowing feel, and there are some fun scenes in which they try to come to terms with their burgeoning bestiality and lust for blood. Craven also wrings some suspense out of the siblings’ attempts to discover which of their friends also bears ‘the mark of the devil’.
On the other hand, Dimension toned down Craven’s preferred cut to secure a PG-13 rating; there are way too many scenes in which obviously disposable ‘bimbo’ females are slaughtered; and the computer-generated transformation sequences are neither scary nor convincing – especially compared to Rick Baker’s vintage work on ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (1971). Worst of all, the over-stretched finale, in a wax museum-themed club featuring a mirror maze and sundry horror icons, is a cheesy, yawn-inducing mess.