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The Accursed (2021) Review

The Accursed opens with a text crawling across the screen telling us about groups of Croatian women who banded together into groups or Sisterhoods, of three, to harness the elements. And how all of them moved to the USA and prospered, except for one such trio. I’m sure you can guess who this film is about. And probably how it all ends up for that matter.

After emigrating to America Aishe (Jena Carpenter, The Hatred) catches Hana (Yancy Butler, Hard Target, Witchblade) with her husband. In the ensuing chaos, Hana kills Aishe before she can complete an epic curse on her and her family. Which means that Nadia (Melora Walters, The Pale Door, Cam) has to cut off Nadia’s hand and bury Aishe with it over her mouth to make sure she can never complete the spell.

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Flash forward to the present. Hana’s son Petar (George Harrison Xanthis, The Making of the Mob) is getting married to Sunny (Izabela Vidovic, The 100, iZombie). In Hanna’s backyard, right over where Aishe, and his mother’s hand, are buried. You know this is a wedding that’s going to be followed by several funerals.

Writer/directors Kathryn Michelle and Elizabeta Vidovic drop us into a complicated and convoluted web of relationships, grudges and curses. While this means The Accursed can keep us guessing as to the character’s, including Sunny’s, motivations, it also takes up more of the film’s running time than it should. A slow-burning film can sometimes get away with that as long as it delivers a few scares to keep the audience interested until the payoff. But The Accursed spends so much of its time talking about the family’s past and a terrible event, which we saw in the prologue, that it forgets to deliver the shocks.

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Instead, we get cousin Zara (Maiara Walsh, Summer Camp, Zombieland) conjuring up some bad CGI bees to deal with a guy who won’t take no for an answer and see the Firethorn vines slither around like snakes. The script is good at dropping ominous hints and building an atmosphere. It’s just not that good at doing anything with it. And that includes letting us know what it all means. By the hour mark, the plot has backed itself into a corner and has to whip out the expositional dialogue to set up the last act. Granted, for some of the more obvious plot points it’s more like confirmation, but The Accursed still has a lot of ‘splaining to do.

Thankfully, the last half hour of The Accursed does give us a few scares, but it’s not nearly enough to justify the previous hour. There needed to be a lot more going on besides the endless talk about twenty years ago. There needed to be some scares in the here and now, and they aren’t there. There’s not even much in the way of effects to distract from that either, and what few we get is all CGI.

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Michelle and Vidovic show a flair for atmosphere in The Accursed, but they need to learn how to make that atmosphere pay off. Just like they have the right ideas about building a backstory. They just need to learn when to get back to the main story. If they can do that, then their next film should get them noticed in a much more positive way than this did.

An atmospheric but bland tale of dark deeds and darker magic, The Accursed is available on-demand and in select theatres via Gravitas Ventures. You can check their Facebook page, or the page for the film’s production company Almost Normal Productions, for more information.

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