The Wolfman (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

The Wolfman (2010)

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Danny LIKEDilapidated old mansions, foggy moors, a wolf's cry over a full moon. Gothic? Sure. Cinematic? Definitely.

Director Joe Johnston imbues his modern day remake of The Wolfman with creepy details galore. Characters linger in the foreground, their malicious utterances interrupted by the doomed march of Benicio Del Toro through dank taverns, empty windy rooms, and labyrinth woods.

If I sound like I'm emphasizing the atmosphere, make no mistake about it; The Wolfman is a film whose production design drips down the frame with a lurid glee. It's a stylish looking piece, laced with beautiful lighting and background details

For that reason, I can't help but love every frame of The Wolfman. Enough that the rest of its jumbled parts are forgivable.

Del Toro is the titular Wolfman, a tortured soul who flashes back every so often to his childhood days with his Victorian-ly proper mother. His brother and him spent many happy days playing with her in picturesque gardens. She's a silent but doting influence, making it especially ignoble when the boys come upon her mutilated body. It doesn't help that their father is standing over it holding a razor.

Their father is the exquisite Anthony Hopkins, a man with enough gruff testosterone to make his dank country manor quiver with fear. Having gotten over the mysterious death of his wife with a mysterious twinkle in his eye, he's continued to inhabit the household, even after driving both sons off. However, when his son and Del Toro's brother dies from being attacked by a strange creature, the son's meddling fiance, the pensive Emily Blunt, invades his mansion searching for clues. She even calls upon Del Toro from London where he's playing Hamlet on stage and asks him to help investigate, which he reluctantly agrees to.

I suppose it's of little surprise what he runs into after visiting a Gypsy camp, and even less surprise what it turns him into. The plot in The Wolfman (which should serve as a hint if you didn't get the last sentence) is surprisingly routine, and even achingly underwhelming in spots. After the titular creature emerges, he's pursued by a cool headed investigator played with a wry grin by Hugo Weaving, while also being enticed by Blunt's modestly heaving bosom.

Del Toro is not the sunniest of actors on the best days, and if he's enjoying his role he does a good job of disguising it; his tortured son is perhaps too tortured, as even the scenes about developing feelings between him and Blunt leave the sense of watching two wounded dogs circling. Meanwhile, Hopkins chews on the scenery with such ferocity that one wonders if a squeeky toy should have been present on the set.

It's a shame that the plot turns out to be just as cheesy as it is (with more shades of the hilariously jumbled Wolf than any film should have), but the pleasures of the film endure. The masterful direction, some good performances, and an atmosphere that calls to mind German expressionism and the Universal monster films with a mad dash of Italian Giallo just for effect. It avoids practically every cliche in the horror film playbook from the last decade, and while I won't say that the film came close to scaring me, it was still satisfying in ways that few movies like it have been.

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The Wolfman (2010)

This film is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins

Posted by Danny

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