Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Doggie want a biscuit?
I really wanted to like Wolf Moon, the new werewolf film from writer/director Dana Mennie. I saw what Mennie and co-writer Ian Cook were trying to do with their film and I could appreciate some of it — but in the end, Wolf Moon is a movie in need of some serious editing.
Chris Divecchio stars as Dan, a mysterious drifter who wonders into a small town where he meets and falls in love with Amy, a young girl played by Ginny Weirick. Soon, Dan and Amy are experiencing their very own little love montage — but things turn hairy when Amy discovers Dan’s dark secret: he’s a werewolf.
It seems Dan is the recipient of a curse passed on by his dear old dad, an even more mysterious drifter played by Max Ryan. When the moon turns full, Dan and his pa Bender turn into bloodthirsty killing machines.
The only way Dan is going to rid himself of his curse is if he takes out his father, a man who, over the years, has embraced his curse to the point where he’s become a monster inside and out.
Rounding out the cast are Maria Conchita Alonso as Sam, the town’s sheriff; Chris Mulkey as John, Amy’s father; Billy Drago as Charles Thibodeaux, a cop turned werewolf hunter; and Sid Haig as Crazy Louis, the town rabblerouser and resident badass.
Clocking in at a little over two hours, Wolf Moon is longer than your average low-budget horror flick. Unfortunately, at least a half hour of that running time is wasted on unnecessary scenes poorly strung together with no real concern to the film’s overall narrative flow.
Chronology and logic are tossed aside with little thought and it shows. One should never get bored during a werewolf movie but I found myself fidgeting before the film’s halfway mark due to the excessive unnecessary scenes. Wolf Moon tries to do too much and, ultimately, the film’s enthusiasm is its own undoing.
Flashbacks, sub-plots and redundant character actions muddy the water and turn what could have been a cool southwestern creature feature with a twist of romance into a tedious Twilight-esque exercise in endurance.
I’m all for giving horror film characters some emotional weight and if that means adding some romance into the equation, go for it. In the end, though, a romantic sub-plot between Amy’s father and the town’s smokin’ hot Latina sheriff fails to add much to the overall story and just means more time where audiences find themselves waiting for the plot to unfold.
The same goes for the lengthy flashback to Drago’s cop character’s past. What could easily been summarized in a few short minutes is dragged on as Max Ryan is given a chance to mug it up in front of the camera.
The fact that half the supporting cast are also producers on the film could explain why they appear much more then they need to. There is absolutely no reason why Haig’s character should take part in the film’s climax other than the fact that he’s a recognizable actor and hard-core horror fans will cheer when they see him tangle with a werewolf. The cheers of the few hurt the heads of the many, though.
As Bender, the film’s central baddie, Max Ryan doesn’t just chew the flesh of his victims, he chews every bit of scenery he can find. Doing his best Randall Flagg impression, Ryan acts with extreme gusto — albeit slightly misplaced gusto.
Ryan’s character officially crosses into the land of ridiculous when he begins to quote Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London.
Speaking of werewolves, I will give the film props for trying to bring a full-fledged wolf man to the screen. I’ve always preferred my werewolves equal parts wolf and man and the lycanthrope of Wolf Moon delivers that quite nicely.
Instead of piling on a lot of rubber and excessive prosthetics, the creature designers from Wolf Moon put together a monster that is streamlined enough to jump around but hairy enough to not be mistaken for a mime.
Looking like a cross between the X-Men’s Beast and the facial make-up design of the djinn from Wishmaster, the film’s werewolves aren’t half bad — though the filmmakers may have gone a bit overboard with the fangs. The film’s monsters have some serious overbite.
As for the rest of the film’s make-up and special effects, I have no complaints. Obvious care was given towards the film’s gore and dismemberments and the camera stays on the effects just long enough for them to make their mark without loosing any mystique.
I just wish more thought had been put into the film’s story. Wolf Moon could have been a really fun flick but not even a scene set in my hometown of Houston could convince me that it wasn’t anything but unfinished.
A little more time in the editing room and the film could make for a really fun SyFy original movie. As it stands now, though, Wolf Moon is not worth rushing out to go see anytime soon.
Robert Saucedo would love to see a new werewolf movie sometime soon that doesn’t build itself around a love story. Follow Robert on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.
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