The Cured (2017)

The Cured first published by SciFiNow 

Where most zombie films take place at the beginning or in the middle of an undead outbreak, David Freyne’s feature debut takes place in the aftermath. For, as its very title implies, The Cured concerns the challenges presented by attempts to reintegrate into a raw, ravaged community those who have recovered from their deadly rampage through it. In other words, this film is not so much post-apocalyptic as post-post-apocalyptic – a little like Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later, only with the key difference that the setting has shifted from London, England to Dublin, Ireland.

This film’s equivalent of the zombifying ‘rage virus’, a rapidly transmissible disease which reduces its victims to a furious, cannibalistic pack mentality, is known as the ‘Maze Virus’, a name evocative of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland where IRA and Ulster Loyalist paramilitaries were once detained. Indeed The Cured is a barely concealed allegory of a nation having to live with anger, civil division and internecine killings which, though mostly now confined to the past, have left deep scars and the constant possibility of another breakout. As one of the cured, Senan (Sam Keeley), struggles to come to terms with the outrages he has committed against others and to rebuild a new life with his widowed sister-in-law (Ellen Page) and her young son, another (the chillingly creepy Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) seeks opportunistically to reorganise the ostracised ‘cured’ and to rekindle past tensions for his own political gain.

The parallels with the Troubles are hard to miss, from the ubiquitous messages (painted or posted on walls) warning of sectarian dangers within, to the militarisation of policing, to the deadly terror campaigns conducted through molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of one persistently uncured prisoner conducting a ‘dirty protest‘ by smearing faeces on a cell wall. Coming at a moment when the Good Friday Agreement, and the fragile peace in Northern Ireland that it enshrines, are at risk of being unravelled by Brexit negotiations, The Cured is a timely exploration of tinderbox issues through the prism of a familiar genre. It also portrays a nation in constant confrontation with its own recent, bloody history.

© Anton Bitel