The town of Downers Grove has a bad reputation. For the past few years, a high school senior has died before graduation and the townsfolk have begun spreading rumors of a curse that affects every graduating class. It’s one week before the big day and everyone wants to know who is going to die next. The Curse of Downers Grove focuses on Chrissie Swanson and her inner circle of friends and family. Chrissie is cautious of the small town superstition and things seem to be going normal until one eventful night when everything begins to go terribly wrong.
So this movie is set on a very familiar premise, and if it weren’t for competent direction, solid acting and a decent screenplay, it would fall completely flat. What The Curse of Downers Grove has going for it has to do with how it handles the story that we’ve seen done before in countless other teen thrillers. This isn’t a film that seems like it checked off each listed item and event on an outline, but it does feature some of the tropes that we have become familiar with. The psychotic ex begins stalking the girl protagonist, a friend gets caught in the crossfire and severely hurt, abusive parents paint a picture of why our antagonist is disturbed; these elements are all part of the story’s whole and it works here.
What happens in the film concerns our main girl Chrissie and her brother and best friend who become the victims of a group of aggressive sociopaths from the next town over after a party goes horribly wrong. Chrissie is stalked and threatened for injuring a would-be rapist by gouging one of his eyes out during a sexual assault. That’s where things begin and if it weren’t for the screenwriting work of Bret Easton Ellis, this film would not have been able to manage its premise with the underlying sense of fated doom and superstition that acts as the foundation of the film. Even through the final showdown, the film sticks to it’s premise and makes you fear for the main character’s survival.
The Curse of Downers Grove is a very well crafted film and it definitely has its moments of intensity concerning the subject matter and events that occur. Good performances from Bella Heathcote, Kevin Zegers and Lucas Till keep the film’s momentum strong as tension builds and tempers flare. The violence and conflict in the film is effectively done and surprisingly the practical effects of some of the films more disturbing scenes look convincing and at times uncomfortably realistic. The film falls short in it’s delivery of the end to the story. Once we finish the main conflict, the events that occur before the credits sadly don’t do the rest of the movie justice. Other than an extended ending that could have been cut down and a couple moments of rough dialogue, Downers Grove is a film that stands up to it’s peers as a competent and effective teen thriller.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars