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I'm a sucker for a good werewolf movie, and there have been some great ones, and ones not so great but still enjoyable. So I really wanted to like Wolves, but despite having a number of good points, it just wasn't able to do what needed to be done.
Cayden (Lucas Till) is a star quarterback with his whole life ahead of him, until he starts to have savage dreams. After brutally attacking an opposing team member after a late tackle, he gets some alone time with his girlfriend to try and calm himself down. The opposite happens, and he begins his first transformation to wolf form. When he finally makes it back home, he finds his parents murdered, and wonders if he did the deed himself.
Thus begins his life of wandering. Supported by unknown means, he travels around the rural northeast, killing would be rapists and trying to find his purpose. Through a chance encounter in a bar, he discovers the town of Lupine Ridge, home to many werewolves like him. Local strongman Connor (Jason Momoa) doesn't like him, but Angel (Merritt Patterson) takes a shine to him, almost immediately causing trouble. Cayden soon finds himself in love, and embroiled in local politics and power struggles. He discovers things about himself that he didn't know, and perhaps didn't want to.
The biggest problem with Wolves is that it reads like an attempted gritty reboot of Teen Wolf, but without enough grit. It's a little too melodramatic, a little too on the nose, a little too formulaic. The two leads Till and Patterson have their somewhat bland performances overshadowed by the natural screen presence of Momoa and Stephen McHattie, who plays the elder statesman of Lupine Ridge. Those two effortlessly hold our attention, but sadly they are not given a lot to work with. The conflicts, the plot, the dialogue: it's all uninspired and vanilla.
And this brings us to the werewolf makeup. Clearly, a lot of effort went into it, and a high level of craftsmanship is displayed, but it still ends up looking somewhat goofy. Perhaps this is because no one experiences a full on transformation, and they continue wearing their street clothes, just with wolf heads and hands and feet. It harkens back to Lon Chaney, Jr's performance, and not in a good way. And then they go ahead and spout their bland dialogue in their wolf makeup, with barely a distortion in their speech. The animalistic, uncontrolled aspects traditionally associated with lycanthropy are missing here. The story could have easily been written with no werewolf angle at all and been barely changed. In which case, what's the point? What themes are they exploring?
Regardless, there are some good points, and I can't hate any movie with McHattie in it, so it's not a total loss. But Wolves will not do much to please horror fans. Rent it.
The image is 2.35:1 widescreen, and looks quite good. Shadows are deep and silky, and the colors, while muted much of the time, are rich. This is a good looking film.
Audio is Dolby digital 5.1 channel, and sounds good, though there are not many demands placed on it. Dialogue is always clearly audible, and no hiss or other problem can be heard. No subtitles or alternate language track are included.
The box states that a makeup featurette and deleted scenes are included, but they don't show up on the disc. The only extras included are a trailer for Wolves itself and for Vehicle 19 and The Starving Games.
Wolves can't decide who its audience is. Are they trying to reach the teen and pre-teen fans of Twilight, college aged kids with no specific interest in the genre, or horror fans? There are aspects that would in isolation seem to appeal to all three, but mixing them together just creates a mess. For an R Rated movie, it's surprisingly mild in the gore department. And it never takes its themes seriously, rather glossing over the more difficult and troubling bits. The main reasons to watch the film are Momoa and McHattie, who both turn in enjoyable performances. But that's not enough for a successful film.