TIFF 2017: The Cured Directed by David Freyne

Starring Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Stuart Graham
TIFF 2017: The Cured Directed by David Freyne
Courtesy of TIFF
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The best zombie movies are never just about flesh-eating monsters, but underlying issues slowly clawing at society's fears. Such is the case with David Freyne's feature-length debut The Cured, which uses a zombie outbreak — and the cure that allows them to be reintegrated into society — to tackle topics related to government control, domestic terrorism, xenophobia and racism, problems that have never felt more relevant in the western world.
 
Sam Keeley plays Senan, a young Irish man who was infected during the initial outbreak and is haunted by the memories of what he did (and who he ate) while under its spell. (So is the public, who treat the cured like second-class citizens.)
 
His sister-in-law Abbie (Ellen Page), an American living overseas with her young son, understands his plight somewhat — her own family was torn apart by the disease — and allows him to take up residence in their home while she works as a freelance journalist documenting the cured's reintroduction into society and the hardships they face because of it.
 
As an anti-cured government takes hold of the country, Senan takes up arms with a pro-cured movement led by a former barrister and future politician (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) who turns out to be more power-hungry and less empathetic than he initially seemed. When Senan and Abbie discover the group's diabolical plans to overturn the new world order, they have to decide whether to join along or stop them.
 
Newshounds who've eaten up stories over the past year-and-a-half about Brexit, the pro-Trump movement and fascism will see a lot of similarities between the dystopian world of The Cured and today, but it's also a great treatise on loss — of life, love and labour — and what happens when people experience it on both a micro and macro level.
 
Page and Keeley both deliver understated performances as grey and cold as the country's landscape, and Vaughan-Lawlor plays one of the more memorable villains in recent years. But The Cured is less about its cast and the ferocious creatures that haunt its fringes than the ugly, convoluted truths about the world we try to forget and why we must confront them — as scary as they may seem.

(Tilted Pictures Ltd.)