The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman has always said he didn’t want to deal with the anti-virus or any sort of immunity in his comic. However, there is a movie out now called The Cured, which takes a deep dive into a zombie virus cure.
In The Cured, “A disease that turns people into zombies has been cured. The once-infected zombies are discriminated against by society and their own families, which causes social issues to arise. This leads to militant government interference.”
While writing the screenplay, David Freyne noticed how the European Recession was taking place and lots of people were being blamed for things outside of their control. This led to a fresh idea to turn the zombie universe upside down.
But the cure didn’t take away the memories, which meant The Cured had to live with the aftermath of their involuntary actions.
It All Started With Terminator 2 For David Freyne
“When I was 11, I saw a VHS of Terminator 2 and it was magic. Then, a year later, I saw Three Colors: Red. I wanted to know how you could combine these two. I just devoured VHS tapes during my teenage years,” said David Freyne in an exclusive interview with “Creative Principles Podcast.”
“It’s a question of who is responsible,” said Freyne about the bank bailouts. There started to be protests and the rise of populist’s politicians. These people were “exploiting the fear and the anger around them.”
The writer-director took the headlines and mixed them with some of the ideas from the great George Romero, who also inspired Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. He also used cinematic references from Children of Men and Animal Kingdom.
Researching Non-fiction To Enhance Fiction
In order to shape the characters who were previously infected, he started to research PTSD, refugee camps, and how prisoners and mental patients are treated. “It was kind of an ongoing process,” said the Irish director.
In the film, Sam Keeley (Burnt) plays Senan, the previously infected. A family member named Abbie, played by Ellen Page (Juno) offers to take him in. Everyone in their city eventually becomes mad at both of them for their actions.
Senan acted the way a soldier might after coming home from World War II or the Vietnam War. For Senan, it was “just the idea of being haunted by the memories of what he did through trapped eyes.”
In The Cured, the characters will have flashbacks of the way they hunted people. They couldn’t control their actions, but now they have to live with the regret.
The Cured Came From The First Wave
David Freyne came from making shorts and said it was a “big leap” to get producers to trust him with a feature. “It’s increasingly hard. What we did is made a short film version of the feature to show I could deliver a vision and style for what I wanted to create.” This way, he could also prove his point in an economic way.
In short, there are obvious similarities to the main film. Both involve young children. Both involve the zombie virus but don’t necessarily refer to it as the zombie virus. And they both also involve fast zombies, rather than walkers.
Freyne shot the mini-movie in three days on a limited budget. “I think with any short film, it’s always good to work within your parameters,” he added. “It’s good to be ambitious, but you have to make sure you can deliver.”
“The fear has to come from the real and not the unreal. I think that’s what’s actually scarier,” added the director. “The fear has to come from what people are capable of when they’re scared… It’s about what regular people are willing to do…”
Making A Small Horror Film Feel Like A Blockbuster
“Make-up isn’t cheap and it’s also very time-consuming,” said David Freyne. Instead of using a ton of money on expensive close-ups and big action sequences, the writer-director decided to let certain things unfold in the background. Ironically, this also makes for a more realistic story because you’re using the eyes of the protagonist.
“The big thing was trying to keep the focus on the protagonist the whole time,” he said. “The action can unfold in the background. It can unfold in soft focus [blurry background], where it doesn’t necessarily have to be as well executed but it’s still there. The eyes will always be drawn to the main character.”
“If you’re working within a budget, make sure the scene is always seen through the eyes of the character rather than focusing on the skeptical. That will allow you to get away with a multitude of sins,” said Freyne. “Know when you need scale. You don’t always need for every scene to be a Michael Bay (Transformers) scene.”
“Ultimately, it’s about the characters and making sure people are invested in those characters. That will always make your film feel like it’s a bigger budget.”
The Decision To Use Fast-Moving Zombies, Not Walkers
In a film about violence, the zombies in The Cured seem more violent than the walkers on The Walking Dead. Originally, when Romero created the undead universe, the fear came from the number of walkers. Despite the fact they were slow, there were so many, they could eventually catch up or surround you.
Then, around 2006, Zack Snyder (The Watchmen) rebooted Dawn of the Dead and made the zombies run. The film was great and it completely reshaped the zombie genre. Later, it became the norm. But Robert Kirkman brought back the creepers, roamers, and walkers for long-form drama, The Walking Dead.
“I love a slow zombie,” said Freyne. “I think they’re classic. But there is an energy to the speed that this works that we were keen to do.” The writer-director then explained the differences between those rage-infected zombies in 28 Days Later, the insect-like zombies in World War Z. But, his are still different from those two.
“We wanted to create our own kind of creature. I think what we tried to do was to make sure there was a sense of—rather than being mindless—there was an animal intelligence that kind of prevailed,” he said. “The infected work like a pack. They work like wolves [and] they communicate together. They hunt together and that comes back when they’re cured.”
In the end, David Freyne has the cure, but we’d rather stick with the walkers.
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