Movie Review: Mena Suvari and Horrific Fates Await “The Accursed

“The Accursed” is the kind of by-the-book demonic “curse” movie that you just know somebody’s going to have to consult a “book” at some point.

The cover is always leather. Or perhaps human skin? There’s always a pentagram on it, and sort of evil illuminated manuscript pages contained therein.

In this generic and generally uninteresting meander of a movie, the book only shows up late and plays no real role in the outcome. But as random as it begins and ends, as many peripheral characters get mixed-up in the messy goings-on, the book shows up because you’ve simply got to have one. Every hack horror screenwriter knows that, even if he has to grimace away the decision to name his movie the same as a film that came out just last year.

Let’s confuse horror consumers. Maybe that’ll help.

A mother (Alexis Knapp) and daughter (Kai Phillippe-Knapp) visit a “witch” in the land of live oaks bathed in Spanish moss.

“Don’t come inside until the screaming starts,” Mom orders. She may be requesting a curse cast upon some rival — “I want the Devil himself to take possession of her.!” — but we start to smell a trap. For the witch.

“Three months later” the new nurse and newly motherless Elly (Sarah Grey) takes a job as in home caregiver to an aged, catatonic crone (’70s and ’80s cinema and TV mainstay Meg Foster). The officious martinet doing the hiring (Mena Suvari) insists that Elly not leave the remote house while her charge is still breathing. Maybe that’ll be just for the weekend. But she gives Elly and the pal Beth who drops her off (Sarah Dumont) the “all kindsa wrong” creeps.

Something doesn’t add up. And it’s going to take Elly, Beth, the mother-and-daughter we met in the first scene, and that pentagrammed book to sort out.

We assume that’s how this will find its way to coherence, excitement, blood and revenge.

The effects — mainly a gnarled hand that crawls out of this or that mouth, a hand attached to something even bigger, and makes its way into another — are pretty good.

The cast isn’t bad, by B-movie horror standards.

But the confusing set-up, with a prologue that whatever the script back-engineers it to do seems unnecessary, hamper this and the frights and confrontations are rarely more than the mildest chills.

It’s hard to work up much enthusiasm for the second “Accursed” to come our way in less than a year, by-the-book or not.

Rating: unrated, bloody violence

Cast: Sarah Grey, Sarah Dumont, Alexis Knapp, Meg Foster and Mena Suvari

Credits: Directed by Kevin Lewis, scripted by Rob Kennedy. A Screen Media release.

Running time: 1:36

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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