From first-time director Steven Nesbit comes the very curious psycho thriller Curio, featuring a haunting soundtrack by Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, about an American woman and her daughter who find themselves held hostage by a religious psycho in the North Yorkshire Moors.
The film starts off with Lauren (Jennifer Bryer) and young Emily (Sydney Wade) moving into the remote cottage they have inherited from a distant uncle. Spooked after an impromptu séance, they pack up and leave in the middle of the night only for Lauren to get shot by an unknown assailant. When she wakes, she has a gunshot wound to her shoulder, a sprained ankle and is tied to a bed being tended to by a seemingly Good Samaritan called Len (Wayne Russell). Meanwhile, Emily is nowhere to be seen.
This Misery-inspired storyline quickly goes down the old Psycho route when we learn Len is possessed by the spirit of his mother, who forces him to sit on broken glass every time he thinks about sex. There’s also a Sixth Sense vibe going on here as poor Emily (who’s chained up in Len’s basement) discovers when she starts conversing with a friendly little boy ghost.
There’s little action and lots of verbal sparring between the bed-bound Lauren and her abductor Len happening in Curi. And although the performances are commendable (especially Wade and Russell), there’s something lacking. Thankfully, we have Coxon’s Pink Floyd-inspired score (although the whistling melody is more reminiscent of Morricone) to lift the film.
There’s also the question as to whether the director was playing it straight or aiming towards some kind of black humour. I couldn’t work that out as the overly dubbed voice of the mother sounded comically like something out of Psychoville, while the script wants to be much more profound.
In fact, the story and characters reminded me of some British thrillers of the past – especially 1972’s The Fiend (with its religious nutter overtones) and the Richard Matheson-scripted 1965 captive woman drama Die! Die! My Darling – but Curio doesn’t quite live up to their cultish status. It’s also a shame that the big reveal – of this mother herself (who looks like a cross between Zelda in Terrahawks and The She Beast from Michael Reeve’s 1965 horror) – isn’t played up more.