Folklore and Horror have always been happiest when they were together. Whether they’re attending a dinner party in Wales or just enjoying some family time, nobody has a better time together than Horror and Folklore. In Vidovic + Michelle’s directorial debut The Accursed, we find the complimentary duo joining forces as each other’s “plus one” for an Old World, Balkan-esque wedding.
Hana [Yancy Butler; Kick-Ass (2010)] has been preparing the family’s old homestead to host the wedding of her son, Petar [George Harrison Xanthis; TV’s Deep Water (2016)], and his young bride, Sunny [Izabela Vidovic; TV’s Veronica Mars (2019)]. All the usual things: make sure the food is prepared, the yard looks nice, and the corpse is safely hidden by the thick, squirming mass of firethorn vines.
As it turns out, the womenfolk in this group of intertwined families have a talent. It’s a talent passed down through generations based on herbalism, ritual, and willpower. Nobody ever mentions “witches” or “witchcraft” in the film and why would they? This is a power these women have had for as long as anyone can remember and, given the negative connotations of the W-word, it makes sense that they wouldn’t label themselves that way. Michelle + Vidovic did a great job keeping the script consistent from the point of view of the characters.
Unfortunately for these characters, when you’ve got that kind of power and you have an emotionally fraught falling out with your similarly-powerful friends bad things can happen. In other words, you might end up with a corpse buried in your yard. And that corpse might still be pissed.
All of the acting in The Accursed is well done. Each of the actors settled into their characters and did a great job. I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention the two bright spots on the screen: Maiara Walsh and Izabela Vidovic. Walsh’s portrayal of pessimistic Naida’s [Melora Walters; The Pale Door (2020)] daughter was full of energy, independence, and wit while Vidovic played her “double agent” role to a T.
SFX were minimalist and appropriate for the film. Mostly CG, they fit with the theme and were used to subtly enhance the scenes they were in. Obviously, this is not a splattery gorefest. It’s a run-of-the-mill family drama; if family dramas had death curses and horrific vengeful ghosts.
The family drama does tend to make The Accursed a little soft around the middle, but we’re all a little soft around the middle these days, amirite? Another good shock or two in the name of pacing would have been a good thing, though the writers did do a good job with a persistent feeling of dread that helps to keep the viewer engaged.
Overall, the feeling that the story is infused with Romani folklore and the clever use of (what I’m assuming is) Croatian adages and phrases makes for a very charming backdrop to the film. While the pacing fell a wee bit short, the acting was stellar and kept me watching. Given that it’s the debut outing for this writer/director duo I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.