In Downers Grove, there appears to be a curse where a high school senior dies every year, one week before graduation. Chrissy is skeptical, but her friend Tracy starts to think she might be the next victim.
I heard about the production of this movie a while back because the actress who plays Tracy is Penelope Mitchell, and I was just starting Hemlock Grove at the time. My search about her, led to The Curse of Downers Grove (then in pre-production).
I was pretty interested because the movie was set in Downers Grove, Illinois, and that’s pretty close to me. I know people who live there. I was interested in seeing what they would come up with for the area (it’s not even filmed in Illinois… bummer). Based off of the premise, it seemed like it was going to be an interesting supernatural movie. I was on board!
The possible curse of Downers Grove is heavily implied in the beginning of the movie, but it falls to the wayside for the rest of it. The curse is said to be caused by building the high school on stolen Native American land, so, cliches aside, that implies it’s a supernatural curse. Other than some flashy visions and dreams that the main character gets, there is nothing supernatural about The Curse of Downers Grove.
When it comes to the actual plot of this movie, it veers more into the territory of stalker story with a lot of things that reminded me of Straw Dogs. Rather than a horror film, it’s more of a teen angst drama with some thrilling moments, if sexual assault, stalkers, and potential home invasion are your thing.
High school senior, Chrissy (Bella Heathcote), a skeptic of the supposed curse, attends a college party with her friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell), where she is sexually assaulted by Chuck (Kevin Zegers). As an act of self defense, Chrissy wounds Chuck, an act that will spark his anger and cue the violent acts that transpire over the rest of the movie. Chuck makes revenge against Chrissy his personal vendetta, stopping at nothing until he gets what he wants.
This all winds back around to the curse and the possibility that Chrissy will be the next fated teenager to die, but it fails to really feel cohesive. The movie tries to be too many things at once. You can see this through the random voiceovers that completely change the tone of the movie, taking you out of the moment. There are characters who come into play in the end that never really had a significant role throughout the story. They were just there. I found it very unfortunate.
Unfortunately, The Curse of Downers Grove could have been something good. It could have been a good look at small town violence and masculine aggression. Instead, it gets muddled by the talk of supernatural curses, needless Native American imagery, and premonitions. Maybe it would have been better received if it had cut that out?
It’s got a cast of familiar faces. Bella Heathcote, Penelope Mitchell, and Kevin Zegers play the roles I mentioned above. They are joined by Lucas Till, who plays Bobby, and Tom Arnold, who plays Chuck’s father. The cast is enough to draw in a viewer, but the story isn’t good enough to have them come back a second time.
Overall, I would not recommend The Curse of Downers Grove. There are better movies out there that accomplish what this movie tries to do. I would recommend you spend your time on one of those.