“A tense, entertaining zombie thriller with a unique Irish flavour, giving the best glimpse of post apocalyptic Dublin since the arrival of the IMF”

Would you welcome a potentially dangerous outcast with a dubious past into the sanctity of your home?

This is one of the questions posed by David Frayne’s The Cured.  Ellen Page’s character Abbie does exactly that when her brother in law, Sennan is Cured and released back into society. While we admire her altruism, we are also uneasy about the consequences from the start.

She becomes a pariah amongst her neighbors

Happily for Sennan, Abby is undeterred. She is after a story, she is doing the right thing by her brother, or, she is inherently decent. In a word plagued by dysfunctional evil this is particularly refreshing.

The main thing is that Ellen Page plays her expertly. Sometimes Irish film stretches itself for a big Hollywood name, and the film suffers for it. Not in this case. Ellen is subtle and fits perfectly into the film.

In an environment where jump scares and surreality is the norm, she is subtle. She doesn’t jump or wince. She is subtle and smooth throughout.

As for Tom Von Lawlor, he has played every psychopathic antihero in Ireland: The gangland boss, a zombie and PJ Mara. Haughey’s press secretary. Presumably his political character here in The Cured isn’t an unkind reference to the former Taoiseach.

The director is adept at showing the sharp contrast between the tender moments that Sennan shares with Abby’s son and the sledgehammer flashbacks to moments of viciousness in which he participated while unwell.

The exposition of this back story is allowed to take place gradually and “sensitively” might not be quite the right word, with few clunky moments when “facts” are explained to us.

The locations look great. Nice use of Croke Park, the abandoned baths in Dùn Laoghaire provide a perfect midnight meeting point.( I don’t know what location scouts will do when these are refurbished and modernized next year. )

The outbreak of the zombie disease has turned society on its head: Conor Ryan, a barrister-cum-politician, has been reduced to the ignominy of a cleaner. (There is some wishful schadenfreude here I suspect.) And I can’t help but wonder how close his election poster looks to those of Fianna Fáil?

The Irish defense forces are led by a tyrant! In these movies, those in authority are invariably malign. (Come on, there must be someone in authority somewhere who believes in something)

The army officer commends Abby for her “bravery” in accepting Sennan much like Sir Humphrey in Yes, Minister would commend his minister for considering a “courageous decision”, knowing the consequences that double handed praise would have.

You could look for deeper themes in The Cured. Is there a hint towards how we treat ostracized people in modern society; our acceptance of asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees.

Perhaps the morality of our political leaders, or our legal profession.

We have terrorists groups defending the indefensible, quite a current topic.

It might give us a glimpse of what might happen if our 2018 snow storm lasted just another few days and our obsession with sliced bread unleashed vicious anarchy.

But really there is no need to delve deeper here; it’s a satisfyingly tense film with plenty of jump scares to distract from any deeper analysis.

I’m not normally a fan of zombie genre movies. But as Leonard Cohen would say, for this, I will make an exception.

For starters, I’m a little unclear about the rules. Sometimes it seems zombies kill some people. However for the exponential spread of the zombie virus, sometimes the people aren’t killed; they’re infected. What are the rules of engagement? Death or assimilation? It seems unclear?

Which, if any, should I be hoping for if I’m being pursued by these guys?

The Walking Dead and most others passed me by. Apart from 28 Days later. This film seems to have set the standard and i wonder are most others merely following a well worn formula.

Despite all of these reasons I enjoyed “The Cured” , which is a good sign, and would recommend it as it hits cinemas this weekend. 

Review by Fergus Keane one of the hosts of No Budget.