Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 31, 2015)
On the cover of the DVD for 2015’s The Curse of Downer’s Grove, it asserts that the film comes “from the author of American Psycho”. Logically, this leads one to assume that Bret Easton Ellis created the novel on which the movie is based.
Nope. Michael Hornburg wrote 1999’s Downer’s Grove, whereas Ellis simply acts as co-screenwriter. I believe this marks the first time Ellis wrote a script that wasn’t based on his own work, which makes Curse more intriguing.
Set in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, locals believe in a “curse”. This posits that every year, a high school senior will die a week before graduation.
As the school term nears its end, senior Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) feels skepticism toward the alleged curse. On the other hand, her pal Tracy (Penelope Mitchell) takes it more seriously and fears she’ll be the next victim. Chrissie starts to change her mind, however, after she encounters violence that haunts her.
Going into Curse, I expected a fairly traditional horror flick, perhaps something in the vein of the Final Destination series. However, the film doesn’t follow that path at all.
Instead, Curse plays much more like a thriller, as it includes few horror elements. After Chrissie’s semi-romantic encounter with football star Chuck (Kevin Segers) goes awry, the movie pursues a line related to stalking and psychos.
A story like that can succeed, of course, but Curse doesn’t tell the tale in a satisfying manner. It seems far too disjointed and unsure of itself to muster the necessary coherence.
This reflects the inconsistent tone and emphasis. Curse doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go, and this means it plods on a road to nowhere. The movie fails to explore different areas in an involving manner.
The concept of the titular “curse” flops worst of all. If the movie made the “curse” real, that could’ve been provocative. If the film explored the nature of myth and self-fulfilling prophecy, that might’ve worked.
Instead, Curse just gives us a stalker flick – and not an interesting one, at that. It fails to dig under the surface of this idea to do anything with it,
All of this leaves Curse as an unsatisfying thriller. It limps across the screen and never develops into anything entertaining.