It takes a lot to be excited about a zombie flick these days. I’ve personally developed a bit of a disdain for such films in recent years. Not because they’re bad, but because they’ve largely become mindless incarnations of a once lively (or at least entertaining) sub-genre. So in that sense, you could view David Freyne’s The Cured as a 90 minute metaphor for not only its political sub context, but its representation of an entire genre that is well past its expiration date.

The cured are treated more like inmates on parole than courageous survivors.

The Cured takes place in a world where a zombie outbreak has already erupted and has sense been cured. But this isn’t another post-apocalyptic snoozer set in a desolate wasteland. Instead, the film resides within the inner cities of Ireland where those who were once contaminated are treated more like inmates on parole than courageous survivors. That’s what separates Freyne’s debut from similar films and concepts such as “The Returned”. In Freyne’s vision, there’s no threat of an individual that has been cured relapsing back into a zombie. The people have served their time and continue to be treated like monsters–a situation that could feel eerily familiar to anyone working to return to society after serving a sentence in today’s judicial system. An entirely new social class is formed. And as a result, the cured grow tired of being treated like second-class citizens and form a revolution to revolt against “normal” humans. It’s a cool concept. One that Freyne directs almost flawlessly.

As you might expect with such a heavy b-plot, the bulk of the movie follows a particular family as they work to re-integrate one of the cured into their lives. And as a result, this isn’t an action-packed blood fest. The zombies (the non-cured) serve a purpose and aren’t mindlessly terrorizing the townsfolk. As we see in many of today’s more successful zombie properties, it’s more about the drama. The Cured focuses on the percussions of returning to society knowing exactly what you did while you were a flesh eating zombie, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a film that has stakes and a message, and I’ll take that over a mindless feeding frenzy any day.

… a climax this is absolutely captivating. 

Both the gorgeous presentation and the excellently grounded performances by all involved help The Cured feel like a much larger production than it actually is. It’s a reserved film when it needs to be; utilizing expert sound design to illicit a reaction every once in a while to keep a steady pace. But once the violence begins to escalate in the final act of the film, it’s apparent where a great deal of the production budget was utilized. Fires burn, bullets zing, and zombies feast in a climax this is absolutely captivating. When it’s all said and done, The Cured may not be entirely unique in its premise, but the concept has never been executed with such polish and impact.

The Cured screened on September 25 at the 2017 Fantastic Fest.