'The Cured': New take on zombies does not bring home the bacon

The idea of repatriated zombies, which formed the memorable conclusion to Shaun of the Dead, gets more solemn treatment in The Cured.

The movie, set in Ireland, is nearly joke-free, so don’t expect anyone to say that an Irish zombie is lime juice, papaya juice, pineapple juice, Jameson, and sugar.

In this drama, a virus has caused a plague of zombies in Ireland, but an antidote has cured most them, and some have been returned to society — carrying memories of the horrible things they did while infected.

One of them, Senan (Sam Keeley), goes to the home of his widowed sister-in-law (Ellen Page), but he doesn’t have the heart or the courage to tell her that he killed and gnawed on her husband. He sulks around the house, helping out with his little nephew, leaving furtively at night without saying where he’s going.

During the day he works at the medical facility where scientists are trying to treat the 25 percent of zombies who resist the antidote — a race against time, since intolerant uninfected citizens, understandably traumatized by recent history, want these apparently incurable zombies euthanized.

The “cured” ex-zombies like Senan are ostracized and abused. Some of them fear that efforts to exterminate the incurable will lead, inevitably, to assaults on the cured. They form insurgent groups, led by Conor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), a former zombie who is urging his followers to answer the violence against the cured with equal measure of violence — or more.

Caught in the middle is Senan, trying to help his sister-in-law, hounded and attacked by her bigoted neighbors, yet suspicious that Conor’s rabble rousing is anything more than a self-serving power trip.

It is Senan’s nature to resist raw and militant feelings, but events may force him to pick sides.

The Cured  pushes the played-out zombie scenarios into reasonably fresh territory — the movie, for a time, serves as a interesting case study in the metrics of militancy and escalation. The Irish setting invites comparisons to terrorism, but there are many possible readings — addiction and immigration among them.

The movie is swimming with ideas, but it values concept over character to a problematic degree. The Cured maps out an increasingly elaborate set of internal rules that govern its characters without defining or deepening them.

Senan is more a situation than a man, and Page, like most of the actors in the movie, keeps hitting the same note in the same kind of scene. Also, it would be nice if writer-director David Freyne could arrive at a suspenseful conclusion without showing zombies — they have a 28 Days Later mobility — chasing after a child, or somebody holding gun to a boy’s head.

MOVIES

The Cured

    • Directed by David Freyen. With Ellen Page, Sam Keeley, Tom Vaugh-Lawlor, Peter Campion and Oscar Nolan. Distributed by IFC Films.

    • Running time: 1 hour, 36 mins.

  • Parents guide: R (language)
  • Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse