There are only about six different kinds of horror movie monsters and they continually get recycled over and over. You have vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies, ghosts, and generic monster-demon things. Cryptid might also get a slot depending on who you are. Of all of those, werewolves have been the worst served by cinema and I’m really not sure why aside from them just being kind of difficult to make believable. For my money, there’ve only been about 5 legitimately good werewolf movies in the history of the medium (An American Werewolf in London sits way at the top of that list) and the rest are just not very good. Writer-director David Hayter’s new film Wolves is so not very good that it made me wish I was watching something like Cursed or Teen Wolf Too.
The main problem with Wolves is everything. It can’t decide if it’s an action-adventure or horror, but judging by the ultra-fakeness of the werewolves, who look like they belong in a roided-up canine version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS, the idea was to go for more action, which is good because it isn’t scary at all. Hayter, who wrote the first two X-Men movies, The Scorpion King, and Watchmen, also directed the movie, and I’m sure he thought his R-rated teen supernatural monster drama was going to spawn a series. It might still, who knows; this was a low-budget affair shot in Canada, so maybe the Canadian market will eat it up like these werewolves eat portions of peoples’ anatomy.
The movie stars (and is narrated by) Lucas Till who plays high school all-star athlete Cayden who at the age of 18 discovers he’s a werewolf, right as he’s about to get it on for the first time with his girlfriend. Naturally, she freaks out and sends cops to his house right as he’s waking up, covered in blood, with his parents dead around him. He makes a break for it and is now a wanted fugitive, hitchhiking or stealing motorcycles from a-hole rapists he wolf-kills along the way (good for him on that front). He eventually makes it to a bar where he meets one-eyed, metal-legged Wild Joe (John Pyper Ferguson) who is also a werewolf and tells Cayden all about the lore for this movie: some are pureblood wolves who are just born that way, like Cayden and him, and some are bitten and become lesser wolves, which you can tell visually by them being just slightly grey humans with teeth and they need to shave. Wild Joe tells Cayden to go to the town of Lupine Falls, a secluded mountain town full of werewolves. Oh yeah, Cayden’s adopted, so his parents weren’t really his parents which is why he can be full-blood and not know about it.
Go figure, the townsfolk are suspicious of him right away, especially those part of the local biker gang, led by Connor (Jason Momoa), a pureblood who basically runs the town on fear. All the other old-family werewolves avoid turning into wolves anymore, knowing they’d never be a match for Connor. The only two people who seem to not want to beat up and or kill Cayden, who is using an assumed name right now, is the local tavern owner Angel (Merritt Patterson), who is way too young and hot to be the town’s tavern owner, and a farmer named John Tollerman (played by the always frigging awesome Stephen McHattie), who takes the young man in provided he does chores around the farm.
The problems begin when it’s discovered who Cayden’s real family was and how his mother was involved with Connor. It’s apparently a very bad thing if Connor finds out the truth, and he also wants to start a whole new pack of pure werewolves with Angel as the mother, mostly because she’s a hot young werewolf herself. Angel has an older sister who is a hilarious alcoholic who’s always falling over things. BECAUSE THAT’S SO FUNNY. In order to save the town Cayden will have to take on Connor and his bite-made gang all on his own.
This movie is just the silliest thing. The plot’s overly complicated, the characters aren’t any deeper than basically saying things, and the effects are, as I alluded to earlier, pretty much just very ornate stage makeups and masks. The camera zooms around so fast I was surprised we ever actually saw things, except for the few times when we get to super-slo-motion just to hit the point home. I couldn’t wrap my head around the tone of this movie. Yes, it’s pretty grim and quite bloody, but it’s also weirdly comedic and slightly melodramatic. There’s a werewolf sex scene that might have been in any way sexy if it had been shot by someone who wasn’t on speed. And by the end, there’s even a twist to the narrative that changes the character’s whole goal, just to prove that getting invested is stupid.
There are two good things about this movie: Momoa and McHattie. As the film’s villain, Momoa is sinister and manic in equal measure. He’s clearly having a good time and, for all his sneering and cackling, he’s very grounded. McHattie is always good and here he gets to play the badass mentor/western hero and he nails it, selling even the dumbest of lines or situations.
There are way better werewolf movies you could watch, but not as many as there should be.