APRIL 26, 2010
I’ve certainly watched a few movies that might not qualify as horror movie in the eyes of others, but Neowolf (originally the equally stupid The Band From Hell) is the first time where I’m not sure I can qualify it as a movie, period. The director took his name off and let Alan Smithee take the fall, and he didn’t even do that right - it says Alan Smith on the DVD case and Alan Smythe on the film itself (the IMDb sees through their ruse and gives the traditional Smithee spelling). It was also shot in 2007, and some extras were trashing the movie even then, so who knows if what I’m watching is actually even a completed film?
Also, it’s less a narrative than a poorly assembled mix of plot points and general concepts from other, better movies. The Lost Boys, Black Roses, Rock Star (really), The Wolf Man, a touch of Near Dark... if there is a single original idea in this movie, I must have missed it. Some guys can pull off this sort of thing (Tarantino), but he brings something unique to it, and also draws on a variety of influences from an extended period of time, whereas this movie is pretty much drawn from 80s horror movies, with only the subpar digital video giving it any sort of modern edge.
Well whatever it is, it’s not very good. The main problem is a pace that threatens to redefine sluggish. I mean, I know that they are a band and that we are going to hear a couple songs, but there are like a half dozen, and it seems like we hear the complete song, instead of maybe just the first verse and then they do a montage over the rest of the song so that the plot/characterization can move along (they have those too, such as when our heroine learns to shoot a gun, but they’re separate sequences from the band performances). Nope, even an hour into the movie, we’re still stopping cold to watch the band play one of their terrible, terrible songs. And for me to say they’re terrible, you KNOW they must be - I can tolerate pretty much any rock song (see: my iPod, which has more songs from Hinder than I bet you even know existed). And yet, we have to watch this instead of, you know, werewolf action.
Of course all that stuff is pretty lousy too. Bad CGI and fake looking body parts are to be expected, but most of it is dreadfully dull, and a major character is taken down via gunshot delivered by a werewolf. As with the Underworld movies, I don’t want to see werewolves or any other monsters shooting people! BE A MONSTER. And there’s precious little of it to boot, which makes its shoddy presentation all the more insulting. If you’re going to make a werewolf movie that only has like two werewolf attack scenes, then the least you can do is make them fun/good, Smithee (actually Yvan Gauthier, apparently). And whoever decided that the werewolves should all have scary (read: poorly processed in pro-tools so that they all sound like a particularly stern GPS) voices should have his license to work on movies revoked.
Now, I will say this - Smithee/Gauthier, or at least, his DP, does seem to be trying to make the movie stylish and somewhat visually interesting. There are a lot of time lapses, some Raimi-esque tracking shots, etc. The script is so bad, even Michael Bay couldn’t have made it look exciting, but Gauthier at least doesn’t sink to the script’s level and just phone the entire thing in.
Another odd thing about the DVD box art (which for some reason doesn’t use the same Twilight-y font that the trailer does - isn’t the attempt to sway in Twi-fans the only reason this movie has finally seen the light of day?) is that it doesn’t mention its only two names (Veronica Cartwright and Tiffany Shepis), instead listing all the “who?” folks. I mean, I’m sure Michael Frascino, whoever he is, enjoys seeing his name above the title in the video store, but who else is going to be swayed by it? Usually, the covers of these things are about their only bright spot, but for once, perhaps ironically, it’s 100% honest (boring and completely lacking anything that draws the eye).
The only extras on the DVD are trailers for other LG releases, many of which are better (Summer’s Moon, for example). I would have loved an “Alan Smithee” commentary. Oh well. Maybe in Neowolf 2: The Tribe.
What say you?