The Cursed (2021)

A line of men on horseback holding torches along the horizon of a field.

I thought I recognised the face of the mother in A Haunting in Venice, but I didn’t expect it to be Kelly Reilly from Eden Lake, which is (terrifyingly for me) fifteen years old. She’s the link to The Cursed, where a Venice palazzo is replaced by a remote estate in nineteenth-century rural England, and her children are now haunted by a twitching scarecrow and a flying crone.

It opens with a land dispute between rich gentry and a group of travelling Roma families. The gentry hire mercenaries to massacre the Roma, which is beautifully and grimly shown in a single shot from a distant hill. Expecting trouble, the Roma matriarch has prepared a curse involving a set of silver teeth which she then puts on the land. Over the coming weeks, everyone in the nearby village has the same dream, and a creature begins to pick people off. There’s a bite-spread virus and some interesting twists on the werewolf legend.

A visiting pathologist brings some outsider energy to things, but it’s a slow, artfully shot, occasionally visceral and violent pseudo-slasher with excellent acting and impeccable period costumes. There’s lots of time to look at the actors faces. I’m terrible with faces. It seems to take me more time than most to embed a face in my memory. Actors are the worst because they deliberately look different every time. I lose myself in films, so I’m saying to the person next to them, oh look, it’s x from y. The characters are the characters, and I’m IN IT WITH THEM. Anyway, now I know Kelly Reilly’s face.

All films in 2023’s #31DaysofHorror…