The town of Downers Grove looks like your average suburban neighborhood -- but Downers Grove has a disturbing secret.... For the past eight years, one senior from every high school graduating class has met a bizarre death right before graduation day. And this year Chrissie Swanson (Bella Heathcote) has a terrible feeling that she is going to be the one to die. Can Chrissie survive the curse of Downers Grove or will she, like those seniors before her, fall prey to the town's deadly secret?
In the film, THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE, the town of Downers Grove, Illinois, appears to be the everyday, average sleepy town. But the truth is, that for its residents, it plays host to what some consider to be a curse. While many of the townspeople write off the the so called legend as being something of an urban legend, for the students of Downers Grove High School, the curse is very real. And that is because the tragedy surrounds them. Since Downers Grove High has been in existence, each year, without fail, one student has died within a week of their graduation. Each year, Seniors take extra precaution to be extra careful to ensure that they aren't "the one". The film finds that this year is no different. In the film, Chrissie Swanson, is a Downers Grove High School, Senior, and like all of the members of her graduating class, she wonders whom death will claim this year. She also has a fear that it might be her. However, with this tucked away in the back of her mind, Chrissy and best friend, Tracy do what teenage girls always do, such as dream about hunky mechanics at a nearby auto shop, and go to house parties. But it is at such a party that things in Chrissie's life are turned upside down. It is because at the party which is hosted by a group of rambunctious College students, Chrissie is attacked and nearly raped by Chuck Whitmore, starting Quarterback for the nearby College. Chrissie narrowly escapes, injuring the eye of the Jock, resulting in the injury that could spell the end of his once promising career, This of course sends Whitmore into a drug-fueled rage, as he and his like-minded friends begin to stalk Chrissie and her close circle(which comes to include her new boyfriend, the mechanic, Bobby). With the pressure on, Chrissie and Bobby head to the Police station, but discover that they would be no help, when it is revealed that Chuck's dad, Charlie, is in fact, "one of their own", as he himself, is a former Police officer. As things escalate, Chrissie begins to believe more and more that this year "The Curse of Downers Grove", has indeed, singled her out as its next casualty - however, she is determined to beat the annual occurrence. All things come to a head when a house party being thrown by Tracy and Chrissie's younger brother, Dave is crashed by Chuck and his goons, who are out for revenge. However, unbeknown to them, Chrissie is ready to turn the tables on them. In the end, what results is something that Chrissie hopes, will successfully lift the burden of the curse. But with just days remaining before graduation, it would appear that the curse is simply inevitable.
Based from the novel of the same name by Author, Michael Hornburg, THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE is a film that comes to us with a lot of promise. It is further spear-headed due to the fact that, along with Director, Derick Martini, the film was co-written by renowned writer Brett Easton Ellis. Who, of course was responsible for stories such as "American Psycho", and "Less Than Zero" - both of which were made into great films. Here, Martini and Ellis attempt to make such a story from an existing work, which was penned from someone else. And with THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE, they had a ton to work with.
Author, Michael Hornburg's, THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE, tells a story that was already made for the screen, so you would think that it would have been a rather easy transition, right? Will it would appear that it was not as easy as it seems, because as the Internet Movie Database so notes, the film had been in development as late as 2011. Along with those years of production, come and went, were a number of Actresses, who were pegged for the film's leading ladies. Names like Hayden Pannettiere, Lucy Hale, and Nikki Reed, were all set for roles at one time, according to the film's IMDb page. Well, whatever the hold up was, the film eventually got back on track, and got to this point with this release.
The story is still here, and it is one with great potential. Possibly borrowing a cue from the story from the FINAL DESTINATION franchise. THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE is a film about death having a curse on people. And here those people, are the people of Downers Grove Illinois, a town built on land, once owned by Native Americans. Land, which was stolen from them, in the year 1832. We come to believe that, since the land was stolen, the Indians have forever cursed the town - and in this case more in particularly the students of Downers Grove High. We come to learn the history of Downers Grove High School, and the fact that, since its establishment, it has had one Senior, from its graduating class die, just days before their graduation. And it doesn't matter how they die(some have been shot, overdosed, have been involved in some sort of accident, etc), but the fact is that they do, and it is seemingly unavoidable. The story is ripe with possibilities, as teens clamor around, wondering just who will die this year, and if it will be them. With all of the story's speculation, the film presents us with Chrissie Swanson, a character who would be at the center of it all. Chrissie herself, a High School Senior, and like many, she has become fascinated by the town curse. While she knows that there are plenty non-believers, now that she has finally reached the grade in which it all has occurred, she becomes even more intrigued by it, while at the same time, retaining the possibility, that it could very well be her that meets an end. The events of the film play out, just as any story with a volatile situation does, however, much of it seems to have very little to do with the perceived curse. In the film, Chrissie narrowly escapes being raped by a Jock(Kevin Zegers), but in the process, badly injures his eye, thus causing his football future to be in doubt. This of course, sets in motion, several scenes of retaliation on the part of Chuck, the football player, and his pals. The scenes play out rather routinely for this type of film, however, it starts to become apparent that the film is attempting to convince us that all of this "bad" is happening to Chrissie, because this year, she's been marked for death, and that, by design, she will die at the hands of Chuck. At this point, it all makes sense, on that side of the story, however at the same time, the film has a difficult time in making all the theories work. The curse, the fact that Chrissie is supposed to die, and the fact that the curse itself has Native American origin, is all jumbled together rather incoherently. It tries to include all of these details, as they are a part of the story, but over time, some things as far as they are concerned, feel excessive, simply because they have not been built upon. While I have not read the original novel, I get the sense that the Native American aspect is a much bigger part of the story than the film leads us to imagine. From the moment that Chrissie tells us via narration, the story about how Downer's Grove was built on stolen Native American land, the film really has us wanting to know more. But unfortunately, it's not to be, as the film only merely scratches the surface. And because of this, the whole idea is askew, as it isn't fully supported. It does not go out of it's way to fully explain the background details, so that, when we are shown flashes of it through out, they bare very little meaning to us. Sure, it's convenient to associate the events within a film with a seemingly interesting back-story, but what good is it, if it isn't fully explained to the audience? However, as it is, if you are able to partially disregard the curse aspect of the film, and the things that surround it, you will find that THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE isn't that bad a film for the most part. Because beyond its thin aspects, there are a number of things to enjoy about the film.
First I like the "average teen", which Actress Bella Heathcote, is able to bring to life with the character of Chrissie Swanson. She's normal, so she's easy for the audience to relate. So that, when it comes down to caring for her, we do. This is further aided by the fact that Chrissie's relationship with "Bobby", is as equally likable. Both Heathcote, and Actor Lucas Till work together to create a pairing that is enjoyable to watch. Near the film's end, the film changes its pace, in which things become rather violent, and this too is enjoyable, but i'd have to say that it doesn't exactly fit the vibe of the rest of the film. And then there is the end result of the film, in which something unexpected happens. It's something that I can respect because I didn't expect it to happen(at least, not in that way), but at the same time, it feels too abrupt, and rushed. In addition, it too is something that has very little support, when it comes to build up. In the end, it is something that just "happens", with the feeling of no reason. It's meant to shock us, but instead, we are left semi-puzzled with the outcome.
With this said, with THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE, there are several things to like, but when everything is put together, the end result is a film that isn't exactly cohesive.
6/10 THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE's soundtrack is actually pretty good. Along with your typical suspenseful-styled atmosphere and scoring, there is also the inclusion of a few good indie Rock tracks.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said, THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE, presents a story with great potential. Do I think that the film fully utilizes it? No. But as is, it's a pretty decent film. It's just that it doesn't completely line up. It has many things to work from, yet only gives us hints of these things when it comes to certain aspects of its source story. it attempts to get the job done by treating us with only teases of very important plot aspects, without fully substantiating them first, causing them to have very little effect, thus making things a little messy. All in all, it's a film that's worth seeing, but it leaves you feeling that it could have been better.
This film will be released on DVD on September 1, 2015