THE CURED (2017) is a zombie movie that examines what happens to the infected after they’re cured. The society that cured them doesn’t really want them, while the cured themselves remember every horrific act they did while they were rabid and murderous. It stands alongside other stories like IN THE FLESH, which examine the zombie apocalypse from a fresh angle and therefore try to bring a bit more heart and brains to the genre.
The story begins with Senan and Connor, ready to be released from a quarantine center in Ireland. The outbreak is over, though Ireland has been devastated. Around 75% of the infected were cured, while the remaining 25% are resistant to the vaccine and locked up in government facilities. During the outbreak, Senan and Connor hunted as part of the same pack, giving them a familial bond. Released into the general public, they face government control and rampant fear and prejudice among the uninfected survivors. Senan tries to reestablish an older familiar bond with Abbie, his brother’s wife (played by the wonderful Ellen Paige), and child, though he ends up entangled in Connor’s spreading terrorist organization fighting for cured rights.
This is a movie that’s more thoughtful and ambitious than your typical zombie tale, hitting themes of how far a society will go out of fear, and how far victims of prejudice will go before they start fighting back. I liked but didn’t love it. It hits all the right notes emotionally, and there’s even a little zombie action, though it’s all a bit dour and sluggish. I think what was missing for me was protagonist character agency–Senan doesn’t really do anything, things happen to him, Connor appears to have way too much agency as a villain, and Abbie, who could have been the face of prejudice against the cured, is one of the good guys from the start. The result is a story focused on plot and ideas, albeit interesting, rather than character, which would have gotten me to invest in the story more. It also might have been more powerful if it was a little less neat and had focused on how the cured dealt with the memories of their horrific acts, offering us more flashbacks to the chaos.
Overall, THE CURED is a good movie, ambitious and thoughtful for a zombie film, and offering something different in a crowded genre, though I felt like it could have offered more.