We already know what happens in a movie about the zombie apocalypse. Society falls apart, survivors band together and tear themselves apart, the good and evil in mankind amplified under the moral magnifying glass of disaster. It’s every Romero movie. It’s every season of The Walking Dead. With his impressive debut feature The Cured, writer-director David Freyne gives us something different; a glimpse at society’s attempts and failures to pick up the pieces after a viable cure to the cannibalistic infection is discovered.
For the sticklers, they’re not exactly zombies in the undead sense, but closer to the infected from 28 Days Later (to which The Cured owes a healthy stylistic debt of inspiration). All the same they have absolutely ravaged Ireland, where people are trying to reassemble their lives with some modicum of normalcy after the spread of the deadly “Maze” virus. There, The Cured follows the third wave of newly cured citizens as they’re reintroduced into society, plagued by the memory and fallout of their violent deeds while infected. The antidote has saved 75% of the infected, leaving the other 25% safely contained in prisons, where the pioneering Dr. Lyons (Paula Malcolmson) continues perfecting her antidote. The film centers on Senan (Sam Keeley), one of the cured Maze survivors integrating back into society, who moves in with his widowed sister-in-law Abbie (Ellen Page) and her young son. Besieged by guilt and plagued with nightmares of the things he did while infected, Senan struggles to carve out a place for himself in the new world.
Meanwhile, the understandably terrified citizens of Ireland haven’t aren’t yet ready to love thy neighbors who ate their family alive, and the public responds to the integration efforts with intolerance and outrage. Discord sweeps the nation as anti-cured extremists take violent action against the once-infected, and in turn, a militia of the cured emerges who are willing to turn to their own violent means. Led by Senan’s fellow patient and friend Connor (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), formerly a silver spoon politician who doesn’t take to his new life as a shunned second-class citizen, the newly organized group of cured survivors decide to fight back like the monsters they’re told they are — An unending cycle of violence, waged in battles between those who were once brothers and friends, and hinged un an unalterable truth of identity.