dvd / blu-ray Review

The Curse Of Downers Grove (DVD): Review


Billed as a teen angst thriller, about an apparent high school curse that will claim the life of a senior each year, The Curse of Downers Grove tells the story of Chrissie (Bella Heathcote, bringing her sexy, resonant voice to the role. Last seen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and will be in the upcoming Fifty Shades Darker).

Chrissie, a high school senior, is sceptical of the curse. Having dealt with enough family turmoil already, and trying to keep her brother in check, wants nothing to do with crazed stories of indian burial grounds and curses. Her best friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell), however, believes she will be the next victim of the curse, and focuses far too much energy on trying to find out who will be next.

While The Curse of Downers Grove is billed as a horror / thriller, it is sadly lacking in both aspects. There is no tension, no foreboding, and not too much mystery. The antagonist comes in the form of Chuck (Kevin Zegers, Gracepoint and Gossip Girl). But Chuck is a merger of every clichéd and stereotypical high school bully, from any mediocre teen movie. Chuck is just a bully. There is less time spent on his character development than on Chrissie’s. And sadly Chrissie doesn’t get too much either, save for a few flashbacks and visions.

A straight-forward plot means that viewers’ intellectual muscles are not going to be too stretched. There are no plot twists to speak of, and the story merely ambles along ticking off the checkbox of what they need to show and what they can skip in the bid to convey the premise of the film.

The Curse of Downers Grove sadly falls short of each genre it hoped to dip in to, landing in the no-man’s land between each. There was a lot of potential for a story such as this, even with it been a tried and tested formula, but this one is left wanting.


The Curse Of Downers Grove is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.


Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen. There is no colour bleed, and blacks are dark.

While there are some scenes that choose a different colour palette than the rest of the feature, for storytelling purposes, for the most part, colours are rich and vibrant.


The main audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a 2.0 mix available through the player menu only. There is no option on the disc menu to select this.

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, with clear dialogue on the surround mix. While not used extensively, the surround channels do add to the on-screen action, and serve to further draw the viewer in to the story, and expand the story world.


Navigation is a basic, static setup, with some background music.

There is an option to jump to specific disc chapters, with video thumbnails. The menu option to return to the main menu is slightly misleading, in that one would think it would play the main feature, so viewers should be aware of this.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc, other than trailers for Sleeping With Other People, Solace and the game Doom at the beginning. These can be skipped.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers.

Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry.

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