Cursed/The Devil Incarnate (L. Gustavo Cooper, 2013)

Wow.

This isn’t the 2005 Cursed, the one with Christina Ricci, Jesse Eisenberg and Josh Jackson. This is the 2013 one, which from what I can gather was only called Cursed in the UK. It’s The Devil Incarnate elsewhere. Neither of these titles particularly make sense. Nothing about the movie did. Not because it was smart, or complex, it was just fucking incomprehensible, with plot tangents all over the place that never seemed to go anywhere, or have much relevance to anything ever.

It starts off with Marissa, a girl in her late teens, rambling nonsensically about a demon who makes pacts with people and curses them and demands the sacrifice of a neighbor’s baby or something. Then an angry cop gets pissed off because he’s just been told a fairy tale, holds up a camcorder, and asks the girl what they’ll see on the tapes. ‘Trevor and Holly,’ she says. ‘Back when they were happy.’

Cut to the tapes. A young couple, the aforementioned Trevor and Holly, are off on their honeymoon. They’re honeymooning in Cassadaga, the so-called Psychic Capital of the World (in real life, not just in the movie) because Holly wants a tarot reading or something. She’s really disappointed when the one medium they find is a phoney (shocker), and Trevor whinges and moans the entire fucking time. Like, this sets a precedent for the rest of the movie. Dude does NOT stop complaining and whining from the minute the film starts until the last time you see him on-screen. Literally everything he says is argumentative and abrasive. Everything. I think he was meant to be a sympathetic character. He’s not. He’s abhorrent.

Holly and Trevor leave the medium and there’s a homeless dude sitting on the ground, who tells Holly to ‘follow the spirit’ to find a real medium. Naturally, Trevor whines about this, and makes some pretty derogatory comments towards the homeless dude, sneering and shrieking about how he’s just some dude and it’s all a scam. Holly takes pity on him because he’s sitting on the floor, and they give him a dollar and tell him to spend it how he likes. Generous. So then Holly gets like, a sensation and they follow ‘the spirit’ in the car and arrive at this old woman’s house. At some point there, Trevor gets a necklace for Holly – I can’t remember if he stole it or was given it or whatever. The whole thing’s a fucking blur. Suddenly this old woman’s screaming  and chasing them out the house and going on about Holly being with child. Later, Holly has a haemorrhage and Trevor sees her bleeding from her vagina so starts whining and complaining about it, and they go to hospital. She’s fine and it’s ‘normal for someone in her condition’ because she is pregnant. They didn’t know she was pregnant. The old woman did though, because she screeched about it.

Holly and Trevor go home, and as their wedding present they’ve been given Trevor’s parents’ house, which his parents and sister still live in. They’re moving out at some point though. Meanwhile, the happy family start living together. Trevor’s sister turns out to be Marissa, the girl from the cop shop. She repeatedly calls her brother ‘Boner’ and they constantly argue. Then their mom constantly argues with them for constantly arguing, and their dad makes the occasional acknowledging grunt. From this point on, every single scene featuring Trevor and Marissa together is painful as fuck. Actually, scratch that, every single scene is painful as fuck regardless.

So Holly drinks a glass of wine and the mom complains about it because Holly’s pregnant, then Trevor complains about the mom complaining, then Trevor and Marissa argue a bit, then they say they’re going to have a baby shower and imply they’re having it there and then, but they don’t. Next thing we see is Trevor and Holly having sex, and Marissa videotaping them through the door. Holly spots Marissa taping them, and gives her a lustful stare, then turns away. Marissa’s all a-flutter because she is a lesbian. You can tell because she wears baggy hoodies, and because her friend – who she skypes with occasionally to further the narrative by speaking the plot out loud – constantly refers to the fact Marissa is a lesbian, by making obnoxious and borderline homophobic comments every five seconds. Their relationship is almost as bad as Marissa and Trevor’s. The friend (who I can’t remember if she even had a name) is a fucking asshole.

At some point, Marissa takes a box of Holly’s things up to the attic and finds the necklace they took from Cassadaga. It’s not mentioned again for a while.

Trevor and Marissa’s parents, along with the siblings, surprise Holly by turning one of the rooms into a nursery. It’s quite nice. I’m sure the baby would’ve liked it. Holly sort of stumbles around the room in a daze for a bit, while the other characters argue, then she opens a closet. She begins to mumble something about the paint, or it being filled with paint or something, and Trevor’s all like ‘chill’ and she turns to him and is all ‘YOU ARE NOT TAKING OUR UPCOMING PREGNANCY VERY SERIOUSLY, TREVOR.’ Then she storms out. Trevor is taken aback, and argues briefly with his family before chasing after Holly.

Part of the reason it’s hard to work out exactly what’s going on is because the audio in the movie is fucked. There’s constant music playing, sometimes multiple songs at once. Marissa listens to nothing but Evergreen Terrace, which plays loudly over the dialogue, and is sometimes also accompanied by the movie’s score, which is largely comprised of haunting piano and shrieking strings. It’s like a cacophony of irritation. The music, dialogue and background sounds all merge into something a bit like nails on a chalkboard, and the weird flickery handheld camera effects just add to the sense of confusion. It’s not a good effect either, especially because only some of the shots are from the perspective of the camera (yet still have the camera effect from time to time). It’s just… ugh. It’s a messy sensory overload in an already super messy movie.

Okay so after her tantrum, the family go out to dinner leaving Holly alone, then come home to find she’s trashed the nursery entirely, and gotten blood all over the walls and everything, although it’s not clear where the blood came from. None of the family actually seem that bothered by this, they’re just a bit confused, but it doesn’t get in the way of them bickering and arguing about any old drivel. Then they throw a baby shower, because obviously Holly’s just affected by hormones because she is with baby.

There’s like 20 minutes of Marissa going around talking to various family members, who are all on her and Trevor’s side of the family. Unsurprisingly, they’re all as annoying as their bloodline. It’s like the curse is that they’re irritating as fuck or something. It’s not even them that’s cursed. In fact I’ve no idea who was actually cursed. More on that later. Then Marissa finds Aunt Maggie, the only member of Holly’s family at the party. She asks Maggie where Holly’s parents are, and Maggie tells her they’re dead. Holly had never mentioned it. Oh, says Marissa. That’s sad. Then she goes inside.

Some teenage male cousins decide to show the unborn baby how to breakdance by dancing for the camera, and Marissa loses interest and turns to look over to the kitchen, where she sees her father and Holly. Holly straight up grabs the father’s crotch out the blue, and Marissa’s all ‘ugh!’ then runs away to find Trevor. Trevor’s playing cards, and argues incessantly with Marissa as she tries to get him to come talk to her, moaning and whining about how he’s busy playing cards. Eventually he gives in, Marissa tells him what she saw Holly do, and he’s all like ‘YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT, THIS IS MY WIFE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE’ because of course it’s not like Holly’s been behaving strangely or anything, and it’s not like Marissa could just show Trevor the camcorder footage of it happening. Then there’s a commotion out in the garden. Holly’s demanding Maggie tell her why she’s here, and Maggie says she saw the invite on Facebook so turned up. Holly begins screaming at her and telling her to leave, then shoves her out the gate and throws the gift she bought, a porcelain doll, after her. The doll shatters. Trevor probably argues with someone. It was all a bit of a blur.

The next day, Trevor and Marissa’s parents disappear on vacation in a hurry, scrambling to leave without a word. The father practically drags the mother to the car, who’s desperate to hug Marissa before she goes. She finally breaks free of her husband to hug Marissa, then leaves. It’s all very emotional.

Later, Marissa’s spying on Holly in the bath, and Holly notices her and asks her to come in. Marissa and Holly kiss, after an agonizingly slow build-up, then Holly begins to chant some kind of incantation in a sinister manner. Marissa runs away and goes on Skype to talk to her awful fucking homophobic friend.

Awful Friend asks Marissa to tell her some details about Holly so she can Google her. Turns out, Marissa realizes none of them actually know anything about Holly at all, despite the fact her brother’s fucking MARRIED her. It’s like none of them had ever even considered Holly before the movie started. Almost as if no thought had been put into the plot or its characters! So Marissa vows to find out some details about Holly, and their day trip to a University open day the next day is the perfect time to do it.

Holly, despite being seriously troubled at this point, is entrusted with driving Marissa across the state. Marissa begins to ask her questions about who she is. She manages to get Holly’s maiden name, but when she asks where Holly grew up, Holly clams up and just says central Florida, in a bunch of foster homes. Then Marissa reaches into a bag she brought with her and produces the doll Aunt Maggie had given as a gift. Marissa’s fixed it up, gluing it together. She decides that in the middle of a road trip, while Holly’s driving, is the best time to present her with it.

Holly sees the doll and loses it, beginning to scream ‘she knew’. Marissa asks if she means Aunt Maggie, and Holly says she means ‘the woman in Cassadaga’. Then she floors the accelerator, throws open the passenger side door and punches the doll out of Marissa’s hands. A car runs over the doll. The doll is never mentioned again.

Back home, Trevor starts screaming at Marissa, asking her what she did to Holly. Holly’s told him that Marissa randomly grabbed the wheel. Marissa says she didn’t. Trevor believes Holly over Marissa, despite the fact Holly’s the one who’s been having violent and dangerous outbursts, and Marissa’s been pleasant throughout. Trevor’s really just looking for an excuse to argue and whine at this point.

Marissa calls up Awful Friend, who’s really rude to her until Marissa mentions foster homes, which apparently lets Awful Friend use her Magical Law School Search Engine to find information you can’t get on Google. Turns out, Holly was locked in a closet for four years by her parents, and sexually abused. This is never mentioned again. Marissa gets distracted from the story by looking up the incantation Holly was muttering in the bath, and discovering it’s something to do with a curse, which is signified by the emblem on the necklace they got from Cassadaga. She tries to show Trevor, who unsurprisingly argues with her and refuses to look at the page, or listen, shouting that he has no time for Marissa’s fairytales and it’s just some necklace.

Later, Marissa wakes up in the night and hears noise. She follows it to the nursery, which is now covered in blood, with the symbol from the necklace painted all over the walls. She sees Holly crouched in the corner, moaning, then notices there’s a shape in the crib. She looks in and it’s the family dog. Rusty. I think he was dead.

Next minute, Holly’s in hospital. She’s lost a lot of blood, apparently, but she’ll be fine, and the baby’s fine too. It’s never said how she lost the blood, or what injury she suffered. As far as it seemed, the blood came from the dog. But, whatever, Holly’s unconscious in hospital. A nurse comes along and is especially rude to Marissa for no discernible reason, then Marissa insists to Trevor that they have to go back to Cassadaga and take the necklace with them. Trevor argues with this and says no. Then he notices there’s a clean spot on Holly’s body amongst the blood, in the shape of the symbol from the necklace. Cut to the ‘Welcome to Cassadega’ sign.

Trevor is now standing in a field, openly weeping and sobbing because the old woman’s house is just gone, and it’s an empty field. ‘It was definitely here!’ he says. Then they go get breakfast at a diner. Trevor’s still wearing the clothes he had on when they found Holly, and is thus covered in blood. Nobody notices or cares. Trevor spots the homeless guy from before, and demands he explain things to them. The homeless guy pretends not to remember, then remembers as soon as they tell him about the necklace. He says he’ll help them, but they have to get supplies first.

Marissa and Trevor drive him to some house (could be his, but that means he’s not homeless!) and he goes inside. Trevor begins to whine and sob about how they shouldn’t be here, the place smells like burning human hair, and he can just feel in the air that he’s going to die there. Then the homeless dude comes back carrying some bags, and they drive off, and nothing bad happened at all.

Next up, they head to the hospital, which conveniently has absolutely no staff on duty, and they kidnap Holly. They take her back to the house, where the homeless dude insists they tie her up. They do so, he chants a few things, holds a snake in a provocative way, then sacrifices a chicken over Holly’s body. Holly grumbles a bit.

Cut to an exterior shot of the house. It’s daytime. Marissa runs down the steps and into the car. Trevor appears moments later, moaning and arguing with her that no way is she driving. She gets out of the driver’s seat, and we see Trevor and Holly walking down the steps. Holly’s heavily pregnant, so it’s like a bait and switch, y’see? Time passed. Clearly the ritual worked.

At the hospital, Holly’s giving birth. Trevor says some encouraging things, and Marissa films the birth on the camcorder. Suddenly a nurse yells ‘you can’t be in here’ and the old woman from the beginning of the film runs up in a hospital gown. The camera falls to the ground, then the doctors and nurses are killed or something and they fall to the ground, then the camera flickers and there’s a baby on the ground. Then the old woman picks up the baby and walks off. The end credits begin.

But wait! It’s not over! After the initial credits, the scene reopens with Marissa, her head shaved, standing in a cell. Prison or an asylum, we’re not sure. She walks up to the hole in the door, stares through it with a smile on her face, then someone slams the cover over the window, and the movie ends for real.

So, to summarise; it may or may not have been something to do with Holly’s family. It may or may not have been a curse from Cassadaga. It may or may not have been a fabrication on Marissa’s part. It may or may not have been a coherent plot (spoiler: it was not). It was literally just random bits of other possession/demon pregnancy movies slapped together with no context or coherency, with the only constant being that people argued all the fucking time, and Trevor whined non-stop.

Best bit: There’s this one bit where an old dude cheats at cards by looking at Trevor’s hand, then pulls a silly face. That was the only real highlight.

Worst bit: Trevor.

Second worst bit: Everything else in the movie.

Most notable scene: The entire movie felt like one blurred together mess of a scene, so…

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