The Curse

November 15, 2023

In Comedy, Home, Paramount+, Review, Streaming, This Week by Dov Kornits

... the most anxiety-inducing comedy of the year.
by Robert D’Ottavi
Year: 2023
Director: Various

Nathan Fielder, Emma Stone, Benny Safdie, Oscar Avila

Distributor: Paramount+
Released: Episode 1 out now, new episode every Friday
Running Time: 1 hour pilot, 9x 30 minute episodes
Worth: $19.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… the most anxiety-inducing comedy of the year.

Co-created by Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie (one half of the Safdie Brothers, directors of Good Time and Uncut Gems), The Curse is a bizarre television series that, at times, feels like watching a nightmare unfold, in real time. The show very much feels like it stems from the minds of these two individuals, as well. It has the deadpan and uncomfortable silence that can be found in Fielder’s work, specifically HBO’s The Rehearsal, as well as the sheer lunacy, foreboding dread and weirdness that comes from Safdie’s previous efforts.

Without spoiling anything, The Curse follows a newlywed husband and wife, played by Fielder and Emma Stone, who are working on a lifestyle series, showing the struggle to bring their vision for eco-living to a small town in New Mexico.

Naturally, you may feel that premise does not sound particularly interesting. And, you would definitely be correct. It does indeed sound like every show that is on a commercial TV channel at three in the afternoon. However, where The Curse differs is in its narrative, style and decision to ‘go there’.

In the first episode alone, the audience is treated to two flashes of particularly small male genitalia, an eight year-old girl putting a curse on a grown adult, and a sex scene so Freudian that the man himself would struggle to unpack it all. And this is just the first episode of the series.

The series’ satirical approach to home improvement shows such as The Property Brothers or Love It or List It provides the creative team with a chance to really ‘play’ with the actual filmmaking and framing of every single shot. Most of the first episode feels much like a documentary, with certain camera angles and composed shots appearing in a voyeuristic manner.

The Curse is a difficult show to discuss without spoiling or ruining any surprises, but what Fielder and Safdie sell to the audience with this first hour is something truly unhinged. What you can know, however, is that Stone, Fielder and Safdie (who stars in the series as producer and cameraman, Dougie) are committed to making the most anxiety-inducing comedy of the year.