Title: The Accursed (2022) Director: Kevin Lewis Writers: Rob Kennedy Studio: Blood Red Films IMDb Plot: Elly is asked to look after an elderly woman living in a remote cabin for a few days. She soon discovers there is a demon hiding in the woman just waiting to break free. Joe Says: The continual set ups and feints are exasperating. All creep and no scare makes The Accursed a dull entry to the genre.
Horror movies – perhaps more than any other genre – have perfected the concept of suspension of disbelief. That is, as long as it fits within the established mythology of the story. The apparent speed of Michael Myers. The seeming immortality of Jason. The Catholic laws of exorcism. All those cliches and tropes work as long as they remain consistent and true to the story. And when this plan deviates? Brother, not only is it noticeable it becomes detrimental, ripping holes into the set-upon mystique.
The Accursed, the latest from Kevin Lewis, opens with a creepy tapestry of voodoo spells, demon conjuring, and good-old betrayal. As the movie unfurls, the amount of feints, blatant jumpscares, and poor editing shreds that tapestry into a lace doily making the eventual payoff – one that occurs in the dying moments of the movie – wholly inconsequential.
The set up is a decent one. Elly (Sarah Grey), after dealing with the death of her vexing mother, is hired by caregiver Alma (Mena Suvari, in a polar opposite role to the vixen she played in 1999’s American Beauty), to nurse elderly-woman-with-a-past, Ms Ambrose (Meg Foster). The fact that Ambrose’s house looks like the cabin from Evil Dead does not dissuade her – thus keeping one trope securely in place. The isolated cabin barely has 4G service (check), has a hidden basement chock full of occult objects (check), and Ambrose has a sinister connection to Elly, who is haunted by her mother (check). So why does The Accursed fall apart?
There is the forgivable excuse that Elly does not do a whisper of nursing work for Ambrose. Barely justifiable, though, is the added inconvenience of twenty-something Elly not knowing her way around an iPhone (her entire generation collectively hashtagged an OMG!). Lewis, and writer Rob Kennedy, instead fills the time with teases and fients… and a ghoulish amount of focus on Elly’s stylish cowgirl boots. Poor editing adds to this detriment where the scare is never given the chance to ferment; the ruses never reach a boil. Is Elly really seeing ghosts or are these dreams? Is Alma insane, crazy like a fox, or a cliched wonder? The continual set up with no clear answer simply falls into exasperation. All creep and no scare makes The Accursed a dull entry for the genre.
Kevin Lewis wants to build a gothic family history tainted with old-fashioned demonic possession. That history never gets further than unexplained visions and dropped plot devices. Inspired set design might keep you frightfully awake but bad scripting will scare you to sleep every time.
A version of this review is also available on Cinefied.com