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Review: Despite raking over familiar fantasy ground, 'Cursed' isn't

New Netflix series doesn't reinvent wheel but still manages to roll

Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

If you’ve seen one deformed leper king you’ve seen them all.

Well, not really. But coming in the wake of “Game of Thrones,” “The Witcher” and other medieval-looking fantasies, the new Netflix offering “Cursed” does seem awfully familiar. You’ve got wood fairies with antlers growing out of their heads, bloodthirsty red-robed monks, mad royals, lesbian nuns, imposing castles and a plethora of Olde English countryside settings.

Katerine Langford in "Cursed."

It’s not “been here, done that,” but it is “been really close to here and almost done that.”

None of which should dissuade fantasy fans; in fact it may encourage them. There is solace to be found in the comfortably extraordinary.

“Cursed” is a prequel of sorts to the King Arthur story (it’s based on an illustrated novel, of course). Katharine Langford stars as Nimue, a young, beautiful fairy sorceress. An army of monks is set on killing all fairy folk and Nimue is charged with delivering a magic sword to the magician Merlin (Gustaf Skarsgard), who has become something of a useless drunk while serving a power-obsessed king.

Nimue runs into a human scoundrel/heartthrob named Arthur (Devon Terrell) early on and you can see where this is headed. But getting there is all the fun as betrayals, bloody battles and strange characters crowd the storylines.

Langford (“Knives Out,” “13 Reasons Why”) is effective if not exceptional, somewhat mirroring the entire enterprise. The gore quotient here runs high, but unlike “Thrones” and “The Witcher” there is no underlying erotic throb fueling things and humor is scarce. Pity.

Still, those who thrill at swordfights, beheadings and eruptions of magic will likely be pleased. It takes some gumption to call a show “Cursed”; happily this harmless exercise doesn’t live down to its name.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.