01st Sep2015

Frightfest 2015: ‘Curve’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Julianne Hough, Teddy Sears, Madalyn Horcher, Penelope Mitchell, Drew Rausch | Written by Kimberly Lofstrom Johnson, Lee Patterson | Directed by Iain Softley

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If I wanted to watch The Hitcher, I’d watch The Hitcher. If I wanted to watch 127 Hours, I’d watch 127 Hours. If I wanted to watch Buried, I’d watch Buried. I certainly wouldn’t sit through Curve again.

Another movie from the Blumhouse production line, Curve is the latest film from director Iain Softley, whose directorial career consists of one good movie, Backbeat; one cult movie, Hackers; and a whole heap of decidely average ones. Apparently he got the gig directing this film thanks to his 2005 effort The Skeleton Key which, like this film, is another example of the generic, housewife-friendly horror that is not made for the type of crowd that attend Frightfest each and every year. Which makes it all the more odd that Curve should have its world premiere as part of 2015 festival…

Curve follows bride-to-be Mallory, who is driving to Denver for her wedding when her car breaks down on a deserted highway. Accepting help from a total stranger, Christian, she offers the handsome charmer a lift (big mistake, as usual) after he fixes the engine. But soon Christian’s sick agenda become clear and to avoid his clutches she deliberately crashes the car in the mountains. Trapped in her overturned vehicle, she must use every trick in the book to escape the predatory hitchhiker.

There could have been much more to Curve‘s story if the film didnt keep hammering home its self-righteous morals. We get that the female protagonist Mallory is only going through with the wedding because she not strong enough to walk away – but she will be after this. We get that. Stop having psycho-killer Christian repeat that fact over and over and over. In fact, after he leaves the film for the first time, there really was no need to bring the character of Christian back. He did not contribute much to the rest of the film other being a complete arsehole.

Credit where it’s due. Julianne Hough – she of the dancing programmes apparently, not that I’d know of – actually knocks it out of the park as Mallory. And that’s despite a clunky introduction which lays it on thick that her character is having second thoughts about marriage, and she has a sister, who made her a mix-CD (with the one same track “Listen to Your Heart” played over and over and over. And over. As if to labour the point of this story YET AGAIN). Those three plot points are drilled into the audiences mind repeatedly in order to a) give her character a back story, so that b) we empathise with her when Christian strikes.

Hough’s performance – at least until the final third as Mallory confronts Christian, where all character development and any subtley Hough’s performance had is thrown out the window in favour of overblown “hero vs villain” cliches – and her characters arc, from timid girl to hardened woman, is completely in sync and completely believeable thanks to Hough, who out acts the flimsy script to bring Mallory to life. Shame such a great performance is wasted on such a cliched and workmanlike movie as Curve.

* 1/5

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