Wolves
"Heavy on exposition and weighed down further by a voiceover that would make Harrison Ford weep, the film never quite achieves the energy needed to make this kind of thing fun."

Sometimes it's vampires, sometimes it's witches. It's almost always zombies. At the moment, though, werewolf movies are the big thing in low budget horror. Director David Hayter, better known for his voice acting in several popular video games, chose to make this one after rejecting several other scripts on the subject, which does give one cause to wonder.

At its core, this is a story about coming of age and discovering one's roots. Young Cayden (Lucas Till) is already struggling to come to terms with surges of aggression and a Teen Wolf style body hair problem when he walks into the living room one evening to find his parents in pieces on the floor. Convinced he must be responsible, he runs away and becomes a stereotypical American drifter, moving from town to town until the night he meets a hairy old guy in a bar and realises he may not be the only one with this particular set of problems.

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Washing up in the suspiciously named Lupine Ridge, where he is taken in by a local farmer, Cayden tries to find out more about his roots, but this is a town ruled by a ferocious alpha wolf (Jason Momoa) who doesn't like people getting in his way - especially when it comes to the young woman he hopes will give him an heir.

Heavy on exposition and weighed down further by a voiceover that would make Harrison Ford weep, the film never quite achieves the energy needed to make this kind of thing fun. There's some very good supporting work from Stephen McHattie and Janet-Laine Green as the farmer and his wife, whilst Merritt Patterson does well enough with the underdeveloped character of love interest Angelina, but Till is a disaster. At one point he's described as "quite a catch for a small town like this," and indeed, all he has to offer is a passable set of cheekbones which won't make much impression on anyone who's seen more of the world. He certainly can't act. Momoa is the only person in the film with noteable charisma, perhaps because he clearly appreciates what type of film it is, but dressing him up and building him up as the big bad wolf and then having him threaten people using the word 'fricking' just doesn't work. By the time we discover that all he ever needed to dissuade him from rape, murder and cannibalism was the love of a good woman, any tension Hayter might have hoped for has long since left the building.

All that having been said, most fans come to films like this for the action, so how does it measure up on that score? There's certainly a lot of running about. Scenes of violence of of the all-in, feet first hillbilly kind, which doesn't quite gel with the wolf thing but does fit with the Deliverance style motifs liberally scattered throughout. Claws are supposedly used but Cayden, after a rough fight, basically just looks as if he's been set upon by some bikers. In a way this makes the film more effective because we don't need to worry about the clumsily applied character motivations to see the dominant wolf gang as a threat. It also means that the more explicit wolf on wolf action can be saved for the final battle, which isn't especially well shot but was clearly fun for the effects department.

For all its problems, Wolves is a passable attempt at an old fashioned B movie. It's pretty dismal in its attitude to women and that voiceover really is grim, but it has its moments, and when it comes to modern creature features, you could do a lot worse.

Reviewed on: 02 Mar 2015
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A young man stumbles upon a town of lycans.

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