The only thing scary about ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ is its acting

Teagan Smith

More stories from Teagan Smith


Teagan Smith

“The Curse of Downers Grove” was written by a DGS alumnus.

In 2013 Forbes Magazine ranked Downers Grove eighth on the list of “America’s Friendliest Towns.” This is a stark contrast to the 2015 horror film, based on true events, “The Curse of Downers Grove” which was released a mere two years later.

Although set in Downers Grove, Ill., the movie was filmed in Pomona, Calif. The only actual shot of Downers Grove in the movie is a picture of our iconic water tower.

The film was loosely based on the 1999 book Downers Grove, written by Michael Hornburg, a DGS alumnus. The movie had some major adaptations from the book and consequently received low ratings. Hornburg graduated in 1978 and, according to his interview with The Daily Herald, he experienced many deaths during his time at DGS.

“I saw more people die in high school than in the rest of my life,” Hornburg said. “One kid died in a car crash. One kid drowned in a quarry. The girl who sat next to me in typing class, she was kidnapped outside of an arcade and was found murdered inside a garbage bag in Lisle. So there was a lot of murder and mayhem and people getting killed on a scale I never experienced again.”

According to the movie, Downers Grove has a curse where every year a senior at Downers Grove High School dies before graduation. One student dies after getting hit by a train, another after falling off the water tower and other freak accidents. The main character Chrissie is a senior at Downers Grove High School, who doesn’t believe this curse is real, but her best friend is paranoid she will be the next victim.

The movie follows Chrissie and her friends as she makes new enemies from a rivalry school. In an act of self-defense, she ends a star athlete’s football career and his college future. The angered teenager and his ruthless teammates decide to take matters of revenge into their own hands against Chrissie and her friends.

These acts of revenge quickly turn from violent to deadly as the football players desire to ruin Chrissie’s life. But the attempted horror falls short because of the shifty acting and lack of reality in cinematic effects. You start to wonder less if the curse will be fulfilled and more about when the credits will roll.

Even though this movie is literally named after our town, many students have never heard of it. The adaptations of turning the book into the movie took out some key elements of the plot such as Chrissie’s grandmother, who was an important character in the book.

The film transformed Downers Grove a successful and well-rated book into The Curse of Downers Grove, a mediocre and stereotypical horror film, which was not at all an accurate depiction of the book, or the Downers Grove we know and love.