This time I wanted to talk about “The Cursed”, a Korean horror I found on Netflix. The show is a drama about witches, demons and murder-mysteries. The show is about a girl that can kill people either by physical contact, or remotely by using a photo, a name and a personal item, who joins a reporter in a fight against a man possessed by an evil spirit.
The story begins with a rite gone wrong, and that rite brings the great evil into the lives of the main characters. This rite is what opens the door to the antagonist of the show, a man who is possessed by an evil spirit of an evil dog. According to the series, you can “create” these evil spirits, so this evil spirit was actually created at some point, and it’s looking for revenge. The man with the evil spirit then murders the Shaman that caused his possession, as a way to prevent any form of exorcism. This event brings forward the protagonist of the series, the girl who wants to stop the man and destroy the evil spirit.
However, things are not really as simple as they may seem. These two characters make it very clear they are willing to do anything to reach their goal. As more characters join the cast, you also realize these other characters can also cross the line when they feel the need to do it, and this shows that the “good guys” might not be as good and the “bad guys” are still bad, but for different reasons.
Another thing I liked about the show is how it slowly reveals the backstory. Even if it’s the same sequence, you are given the sequence in pieces, so at first you have a certain idea of what’s going on, but then you start understanding things better or even flip the understanding of what happens. These backstory elements also add to the whole idea of “good guys are not really that good, and bad guys are still bad but it’s complicated” to the point that you realize the blame of the entire mess caused by these demons falls on someone else, not just the antagonist of the series.
Tension is also a big part of the series. As I said before, these are characters that are willing to do anything to reach their goal. This really makes the stakes go up, as you never know what to expect. For this reason, you still feel like something may happen to the characters even if you know some of them have the power of plot armor. At some point there’s even a death that completely changes the dynamic of the show.
Speaking of the deaths in the show, I have to say they are not gory, but they are still disturbing. Imagine you have a rubber doll and you start twisting it and gluing limbs to parts of the torso (for example you bend the arm backwards and glue the hand to the frontal part of the chest). That’s the kind of fate that is met by those who receive the curse. Not only that, deaths are slow, and there’s even a scene where a forensic doctor explains the cause of death and it’s basically asphyxia plus excruciating pain for minutes until the brain pops. The entire sequences really show the painful death, and the practical effects are really good.
When it comes to the effects, there aren’t really many effects. The Cursed doesn’t fall into the VFX extravaganza, something others would do considering the nature of the show. As I said above, the practical effects for the deaths are very good, and there are other practical effects like car accidents (there’s actually a very brutal car accident sequence that is very good). When it comes to digital effects, there are things like digital fire or some particle effects during the cursing sequences. However, they never go for stuff like making the digital evil spirit or things like that.
The series ending is open, meaning there was more to explore and that’s actually the case here, since the show is followed up by a movie titled “The Cursed: Dead Man’s Prey”, which I haven’t been able to watch yet.
This is one of those shows that do a very good combination of the paranormal elements and regular mundane elements. It doesn’t go over-the-top, making the show into this big supernatural spectacle, but rather makes it into something subtle that makes characters wonder what’s going on, while at the same time wonder if there are natural explanations. On top of that, it’s at the end a character-driven drama to the point it makes you see the characters may even be worse than the evil spirits, and that is a nice element since it’s the characters, not the supernatural elements, what drives the story. If you have the chance, you should watch this one. It’s only 12 episodes, so you can watch it on the weekend.