May 7, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Kevin Lewis
Culture Representation: Taking place in 2019, in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror film “The Accursed” features a cast of predominantly white characters (with a few African Americans and Asians) representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A young woman goes to a house in a remote wooded area, after she’s hired to be a nurse caretaker for an elderly woman, who has a secret: She’s possessed by a demon.
Culture Audience: “The Accursed” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching cliché-ridden horror movies that offer very little suspense or terror.
“The Accursed” is full of half-baked ideas that are terribly mishandled. The acting is subpar. There’s hardly anything scary about this low-quality horror flick, which has a fixation on showing disgusting things coming out of elderly women’s mouths.
Directed by Kevin Lewis and written by Rob Kennedy, “The Accursed” is nothing but a lazy checklist of the most over-used low-budget horror stereotypes: Are there women (usually young, usually pretty) in peril? Check. Are they stuck in a remote place (usually a house in the woods) and can’t figure out a way to leave? Will the victims be the targets of an evil ghost, demon or serial killer? Check.
“The Accursed” takes place in 2019, in an unnamed U.S. city but was actually filmed n Savannah, Georgia. The movie begins by showing a young widow named Mary Lynn Crandon (played by Alexis Knapp) traveling on a rainy night to a house with her daughter Sadie Crandon (played by Kailani Knapp), who’s about 7 or 8 years old. The house is in an isolated wooded area. Mary Lynn tells Sadie to wait outside, but adds, “Don’t come inside until the screaming starts.”
Mary Lynn knocks on the house door and goes inside after there’s no response. But there’s actually someone inside the house: the house owner. She is an eldery woman named Ms. Ambrose (played by Meg Foster), who asks Mary Lynn: “Commune or curse?” Mary Lynn replies, “Curse.” Ms. Ambrose asks for payment. Mary Lynn pays her with blood.
Ms. Ambrose asks, “What fate for the owner of this blood?” Mary Lynn says, “I want the devil himself to take possession of her, for both to be locked in hell forever.” Ms. Amrose says, “The devil himself never takes possession. He sends one of his legions … and it will be whenever he so chooses.”
Ms. Ambrose gives Mary Lynn a knife and says, “You must take this knife and wait for the point of no return, when the demon has gone too far. Ms. Ambrose then adds ominously, “Are you ready to gaze into hell?” Mary Lynn answers, “Yes.”
Ms. Ambrose drinks the blood, but she doesn’t find out until it’s too late that Mary Lynn gave Ms. Ambrose the blood of Ms. Ambrose. Mary Lynn then says as she stabs Ms. Ambrose: “My name is Mary Lynn Crandon. And this is for my husband Thomas!” Sadie is now in the house. Ms. Ambrose howls at Sadie, who breaks off Ms. Ambrose’s fingers.
That’s about as intriguing as it gets in “The Accursed.” The movie than fast forwards to three months later and goes through the dull motions of the aforementioned checklist. Ally will some become acquainted with Ms. Ambrose in a way that’s already revealed from the movie’s opening scene, which shows that Ms. Ambrose unwittingly put a curse on herself to be possessed by a demon.
Elly (played by Sarah Grey) is a pretty blonde in her 20s who has come back to her hometown to oversee the sale of the house that was owned by Elly’s recently deceased mother, Helen Gamble. Elly’s father abandoned the family years ago, when Elly was a child. Before temporarily moving back to her hometown, Elly was living in Haiti, where she was working as a volunteer for an unnamed social cause.
Elly gets a rude and violent welcome home from a neighbor named Mrs. Dudley (played by Antoinette Van Klingeren), who slaps Elly in the face and scolds Elly for not being there when Elly’s mother was dying. It’s implied that Elly’s guilt is the reason why she takes a job on short notice to be the nurse caretaker of a “comatose” elderly woman who lives in a remote house in the woods. That elderly woman, of course, is Ms. Ambrose.
Elly doesn’t know anything about Ms. Ambrose except that Elly’s mother and Ms. Ambrose used to be acquaintances. A woman named Alma Whitemore (played by Mena Suvari), who identifies herself as being in charge of the Ambrose estate, has contacted Elly to hire her. Elly needs the money, so she immediately says yes.
Elly’s hometown best friend Beth (played by Sarah Dumont) is concerned that Elly is going to this stranger’s home, but Elly assures Beth that everything should be fine. Of course, everything isn’t fine. Almost as soon as Elly arrives in this dark and creepy home, she starts having nightmares about her dead mother.
And then “The Accursed” begins a repetition of showing things coming out of Ms. Ambrose’s mouth on separate occasions, including, blood, bile and a gnarly black hand. It’s mentioned at one point in the story that Ms. Ambrose has a daughter named Dorothy. Where Dorothy is should come as no surprise, because at one point in the movie, it becomes very obvious.
And what about Mary Lynn and Sadie, who were seen the beginning of the movie? Mary Lynn and Sadie show up later in the part of the movie where it’s explained why Mary Lynn wants to avenge her dead husband. It’s probably one of the most unimaginative and predictable reasons why a wife would want revenge.
Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with a horror movie using a well-worn concept, as long as there’s enough in the story and in the cast members’ performances to keep viewers engaged in what happens next. “The Accursed” is just a tedious slog of weak jump scares, lackluster acting and a terribly conceived story. The ending of “The Accursed” is so ridiculous, the only people who will feel cursed are viewers who will feel tricked that they wasted their time with this junk.
Screen Media Films released “The Accursed” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on October 14, 2022. The movie was released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 6, 2022.