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The Wolfman is Everything Wrong With Big-Budget Horror

The Wolfman
Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self from the 1941 screenplay The Wolf Man by Curt Siodmak
Universal, 2010

The horror genre has been ruined almost completely by the modern age.  If there was a kind of film that would have benefited from staying in the dark ages, it’s horror.  Nearly all of my favorite horror films from the past decade are those that aren’t very slick; for instance, Paranormal Activity and The Descent.  If we could only get back to 70s-style cinematography and even special effects, the genre might not suck so often.  Of course, there were crappy ones in the 70s, too, but even in the worst of them, at least the requisite mood was set.  When you see a movie like The Wolfman, spruced up with crack professional lighting and cinematography, Academy Award-winning actors, and digital effects, the mood is washed away.  You are watching a movie, and nothing in your brain will let you for a second think that there might be anything remotely in which to be frightened.

The Wolfman concerns an actor, Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro) who returns to his childhood manor after his brother is brutally murdered by some unknown beast.  His father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), is the only one in his family left now, since his mother apparently committed suicide long ago.  Lawrence is looking to exact some revenge, joins a posse, and wouldn’t you know, is bitten by the beast.  It won’t be long before the full moon starts making Lawrence a murderous wolf, too.

This is all bad news for potential mate Gwen (Emily Blunt) and Scotland Yard detective Abberline (Hugo Weaving), and the posse wants to go ahead and put Lawrence out of his misery, since they know the bite of the wolf can do.  Plus, it seems Lawrence’s father has a big secret concerning the family curse.

Blah, blah, blah.

The problem with The Wolfman is even if it played the part of getting a little bit grittier and setting a proper suspenseful mood, nearly every scene in this movie is something you’ve seen before.  Not one part of this movie has something I could wholly recommend sitting through the movie for, and oh yes, there will be blood.  Much time was dedicated to making it really gory.  I’m not quite sure why a wolfman goes out and not only wants to kill, but tries to be really creative in doing so.  I’m not sure I understand the motive.  Yeah, I’m someone who demands to know why a person turning into a murderous wolfman does what he does, and with style!  At least in Sleepy Hollow (a movie Andrew Kevin Walker also wrote, after a great success with Seven), we got an understanding for why the headless horseman came out to lop people’s heads off.  In iconic masked-killer films like Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, all of the killers have their reasons.

It’s all of these elements: not being scary, too glossy, and terribly derivative, that make The Wolfman a “worst of the year” candidate.

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