APRIL 5, 2012
It’s funny that I thought “Well at least it’s not as ridiculous as Bear” while watching Wolf Town, because I was unaware that the two films were from the same director (and this was from a story by Bear’s screenwriter to boot). They are the only two films on John Rebel’s filmography, so I guess he has the best/weirdest niche of all time: movies about overly intelligent animals trying to teach obnoxious humans a lesson.
But again, it’s not as stupid as that one, with the bear trying to get the humans to admit their sins to one another. The wolves here have a far more logical plan: they just want their territory back. As we learn about halfway through the film, the town was settled in their den, and they killed the bulk of the residents, leaving it a ghost town (investigating said town is why our intrepid idiots go there in the first place). So they just want these schmucks to leave, but they’re pissed about it so they take their cell phones so they can’t call for help, and even arrange the bodies as a “You’re next” message once they apparently decide that these kids have gone too far and can’t be left alone so they could just merely leave.
Otherwise it’s actually a lot like last week’s horrid Grizzly Rage, albeit with wolves instead of an angry bear. We only have four people (three guys, one girl) and the movie is more or less a nonstop series of attempts to evade their attacker and get to safety. They’re not as horrible as those folks, nor is the movie padded with nonsense or as poorly made, but they both neglect that crucial ingredient that made movies like Frozen work so well – actual survival issues thrown into the mix. Frozen had the wolves but also the harsh weather and other matters, but here it’s pretty much just the wolves. The need for water is never addressed (the movie seems to take place over 2 days), they have shelter, and the only guy with serious injuries dies pretty early on.
Frozen also had equal blame to pass around; it was Dan’s fault for bringing his girlfriend and causing them to want more time on the slopes since they didn’t get their money’s worth; it was her; it was Joe’s insistence on leaving the cell phones behind; it was Parker’s fault for driving a wedge between them in the first place, etc. Here, the whole movie could have been avoided if not for our “hero”, who engineers this trip as a means to get close to a girl he likes. All well and good, but consider that not only does she already have a boyfriend, but the guy is perfectly nice as well! Sure he gets a bit heated when things go bad, but it’s not like he’s some Zabka-level douche that you want to see her ditch for our more sensitive hero. Not only that, he’s also the only one that gets pro-active about the situation, constantly going off to find supplies or distract the wolves while our “hero” and the girl talk about why he never asked her out. On top of that, the guy that dies early on was his best friend that he dragged along for no real reason at all. I was hoping it would end with him realizing his error and sacrificing himself so that the couple could get away, but NO! The film’s ACTUAL hero gets killed after once again going outside to mount an attack, and then this dork just sort of finishes the job. Lame.
And what is this attack, you may ask? Dynamite, of course! They find a box laying around, because that’s just the sort of thing you leave on a table, and they decide to lure the wolves into a house, set the fuse, and escape through a second floor window before it explodes and takes the pack along with it. Could be cool, but it’s the most indifferently presented explosion I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time; not only do we not get a wide shot of the place ‘sploding, but the music doesn’t even bother to make note of it – the cue just keeps repeating the same couple notes that it was when he was just running around. Earlier the music synced up perfectly to a guy’s whacks as he beat one of the wolves to a pulp, so I am baffled why they couldn’t even bother to build a moment out of the audio once they realized they had botched the video.
Luckily the rest of the film isn’t as incompetent, as we’re treated not only to real wolves, but wolves that interact with the human beings (take THAT, Grizzly Rage). Quite often they resort to zoomed in shots of the wolves’ eyes (probably to hide the non-threatening face the wolf was making – they seem pretty chill most of the time), but there’s 3 or 4 good nailbiter moments where the wolf was clearly with the actor (sometimes maybe a bit too close – I caught the trainer’s stick in one shot), and the human dummies they provide for when they strike is also preferable to using a fake wolf with the real actor. I mean, there’s no way to show this stuff without actually causing serious injuries to the actors, so they have to fake it one way or the other, so I was pleased to see that they opted for the lesser of two evils.
So if you’re in the mood for this sort of thing, you can certainly do worse. It’s inane at times and again, the hero deserved to be eaten, but the pace keeps up and the interplay with the wolves is solid. And if you get to the end you are treated with the credit “The Wolves – Themselves” under the cast, so that’s another perk. Also it made me want to parody Live’s “Shit Towne”, so I’m going to go get on that.
What say you?