I’ve been a fan of actor/writer/director David Hayter for a while. The man wrote both X-Men and X-Men 2, Watchmen and weirdly enough, also provided the gravelly voice for lead character Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid video game series. He’s had a big impact on me growing up in one form or another. Despite its generic title, I was interested to see what he did with Wolves, a low-budget werewolf film.
Wolves tells the story of Cayden Richards (Lucas Till), a popular high schooler who gets everything taken away from him when he sees red and surprises himself and others when he pummels a bully with superhuman strength. Coming to the realisation that he must be a werewolf, he goes on the run, determined to find out who is is and to get some answers. He winds up in the small town of Lupine Ridge, where he comes across a local gang led by Connor (Jason Momoa) who may be the key to his wolf powers. About 10 minutes in I was made very much aware of the fact that I’m not the target audience for the film. The acting, tone and dialogue are all very supernatural teen drama, which is fine, but not something I’m particularly a fan of. There’s a reason why I haven’t watched the bafflingly popular Teen Wolf TV series. Lucas Till does well, as does love interest Merritt Patterson. I’m usually averse to calling the female lead a simple “love interest” but that’s all she basically is. Angel is a connect-the-dots hot girl who has “rescue me” practically tattooed on her forehead. Another disappointment is Momoa’s Connor, who doesn’t get to be properly villainous. He’s just kind of there. Casting high point for me was John Pyper-Ferguson as the milky-eyed Wild Joe. He is a lot of fun in the film and I could have done with seeing more of him.
I think my main problem with Wolves is how generic it all feels. One could argue that the film has a strong focus on what it wants to be and who it wants to appeal to and a limited budget with which to do that with. That’s no excuse for utterly blah scripting, especially when David Hayter has displayed much nuance and skill in his previous work. The whole thing reminded me of a TV pilot, complete with a sequel bait ending. The film also has tonal issues, being happy to feel like a teen drama one minute and then throw in some blood, swearing and sex the next. I found it really jarring and it prevented me from getting a handle on what it actually was.
Wolves is perfectly alright, but when you’re basing your film around sexy werewolves, I feel more has to be done to justify going over the same well-trodden ground that both TV and film have been going over for the last 7 years. I’m willing to remove myself from the equation, considering the amount of film and TV I consume, but I can’t imagine anyone would find anything new or exciting about what Wolves brings to the table. There’s just nothing that elevates it beyond bland convention following, which is a shame.
I’m inclined to be slightly kinder to Wolves than I normally would be. It doesn’t do anything especially bad. I thought the slightly shonky werewolf effects were pretty good considering the budget and they have an old school charm to them. I will say that unlike some of the tossed out direct-to-DVD stuff I’ve reviewed in the past that at no point was it painful to sit though. Sure, that little quote is not going to make the DVD cover any time soon, but to me that’s something that works in the film’s favour. It’s not inept or boring. Just blah.
As I said earlier, I knew from the off that Wolves wasn’t going to be my bag. If you can’t get enough brooding supernatural beings taking their shirts off, then Wolves may be right up your alley and feel free to disregard all the negative stuff above. For the rest of us, however, there’s nothing much for us here to sink our teeth into.
Genre:Horror, Action Distributor: Altitude Film Entertainment DVD Release Date: 2nd March 2015 (UK) Rating: 15 Director: David Hayter Cast: Lucas Till, Stephen McHattie, John Pyper-Ferguson, Jason Momoa, Merritt Patterson Buy:Wolves [DVD]