Review: THE CURSE OF DOWNER’S GROVE

downerThere are films that you know are not good films by any means, but you still find yourself attracted to them. Films that cause you to wonder why you’re watching them, but you find yourself watching them over and over again, for some sadistic and inhumane reason, who knows, maybe people like myself are just gluttons for punishment? Regardless of their merit, I think we need films like that to be a type of buffer between the GREAT films and the AWFUL films, we need films that just aren’t good but watchable and entertaining to fill the void. THE CURSE OF DOWNER’S GROVE, co-written by AMERICAN PSYCHO and THE RULES OF ATTRACTION author Bret Easton Ellis and HICK director Derick Martini and helmed by Martini is just that type of film: one that you can’t fathom loving, but you just want to see to the end EVERY SINGLE DAMN TIME.

Adapted from Michael Hornburg’s 1999 book, Downer’s Grove, the film revolves a town that is cursed with teenagers dying close to graduation. The curse is believed by most, frowned on by some, but the reality of the town is that teens just KEEP dying awful deaths, year after year. While this seems like it would make for an interesting FINAL DESTINATION knock-off, the film doesn’t really revolve around the curse, but instead, it follows the people within the city and their horrible and awful lives. Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote), our protagonist, is continually in fear of the idea that she just might be this year’s curse victim, so every decision she makes is based on that fear. The fun and ironic part is that it’s not the curse, but her decisions all throughout the film that potentially put her in harm’s way, and halfway through the film, you find yourself thinking, “I would be SURPRISED if she DIDN’T die!”, but yet, you’re still watching, because like a lot of Ellis’s writing, the characters are such horrendous human beings, that you can’t stop watching.

Chrissie’s more promiscuous friend thinks it’s best to go to a party in which jock bros played by FROZEN‘s Kevin Zeggers and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN:The Series‘ Zane Holts are drinking and having a good ol’ time. What does Zegger’s football hero decide to do?What jock bros do best: attempt to date rape¬†Chrissie, which results in her poking his eye out, pissing him off and sending him and his buddies on a revenge-filled warpath for the rest of the film. What we get then, is Chrissie, along with a mechanic who digs her (played by Lucas Till), her friend and her little brother, facing the football guys time and time again, with bones getting broken, lives being endangered, and hey, there’s Tom Arnold as Zegger’s dad, who beats the hell out of him for getting his eye poked out, because it will mess up his scholarship chances.

The characters are easy to despise, do a LOT of cocaine and drink, throw homophobic slurs around (Ellis’s idea of jock bros might just be dead-on, these guys remind me of half of the football team at my school growing up) and stomp on peoples’ arms. A character that is overlooked in the film but fleshed out more in the book is that of a friend of Chrissie’s that is jealous over her affection towards Till’s mechanic and continually tries to express his love for her, but is continually shut down.

THE CURSE OF DOWNER’S GROVE is a film that plays out like Dawson’s Creek on cocaine, with there being a very dramatic tone to the film (a little over-dramatic), characters you want to strangle most of the time, and yet…this trainwreck is one that I GUARANTEE will see a successful run in the Wal-Mart bargain bins (I’ll buy you a copy). It’s a film that you can’t love or even like, but can’t help but to want to watch again.

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