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Wolves (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 20, 2020



WOLVES (2014)

Starring Lucas Till, Stephen McHattie, Merritt Patterson, Jason Momoa, John-Pyper-Ferguson, Melanie Scrofano, Kaitlyn Leeb, Jennifer Hale, Miriam McDonald, Brandon McGibbon, Adam Butcher, Alain Moussi, Robert Mollohan, Adam MacDonald, Matthew Currie Holmes, Thomas J. Strada and Casey Hudecki.

Screenplay by David Hayter.

Directed by David Hayter.

Distributed by Ketchup Entertainment.  90 minutes.  Rated R.

The angsty problems of teenaged werewolves would seem to have played themselves out in MTV’s terrific Teen Wolf series and even the Twilight films (which kinda sucked, but did look at the situation), not to mention the Netflix series Hemlock Grove (which also kinda sucks).  Hell, is there really anything new to do with the genre after An American Werewolf in London, or even going way back to I Was a Teenaged Werewolf?

However, Wolves thinks it can still add something to the genre.  Or at least squeeze some scares and drama out of the situation.  It’s only partially successful, but then again that is a lot better than it could have potentially been.

The directing debut of screenwriter David Hayter (a small-time actor who went on to write the first two X-Men films and Watchmen) has some spectacular filmmaking put to the service of a not-particularly spectacular film.  However, for the first 30 minutes or so, this movie looks terrific.

It’s a pretty standard setup.  Cayden Richards (Lucas Till) is the BMOC in his small southern hometown.  He’s handsome, is the star quarterback of his high school team and has the prettiest girlfriend in town.

However, lately he has been having these odd dreams that he was a predatory wolf.  (Though he has apparently been a werewolf since birth, for some reason there was no sign on the condition until his late teens.)  One night, when a make-out session with his girl gets him too worked up, these dreams prove to be reality.  He blacks out and wakes up at home the next morning, with his parents mauled.

With the whole town (even his girl) up in arms and hunting for him, Cayden takes to the road so that he will not hurt anyone else.  In a dive bar he meets a mysterious fellow lycanthrope, threateningly named Wild Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson).  Wild Joe will only give him very basic information about his background, but he does suggest that more answers could be found up north, in a quiet little hamlet called Lupine Ridge.  (No that name isn’t too on the nose.)

Cayden hitches his way up into the small town, eventually landing at the local watering hole Angel’s, named after the gorgeous young barkeep (Merritt Patterson) who owns the place with her sister.  Everyone watches the newcomer with distrust.

It turns out that Lupine Ridge really is a lupine ridge, a home for werewolves that has been cut off from the rest of society.  The local authorities know better than to come into town, they just leave the wolves to their own devices.

The town is run with an iron fist by the leader of the evil pack Connor, played by Jason Momoa as a violent, aging heavy metal singer.  He and his co-horts immediately sense that Cayden is a threat.

The only person who is kind to Cayden upon his arrival are John (Stephen McHattie), who recognizes the young man as the long-disappeared son of his dead sister.  And Angel can’t help but have a soft spot for the handsome new drifter.

Eventually the few remaining peaceful werewolves (including Cayden, John and Angel) form a band to challenge Connor’s rule.  Little do they realize that there is an unscrupulous force in the background manipulating both sides.

The film tries a little too hard to redeem Cayden.  When it later turns out that he was not the wolf who killed his adoptive family, he thankfully says that he had never killed anyone after all.  Of course, this is totally overlooking the two truck stop toughs that he took out when he caught them trying to beat a local prostitute.

However, the political and violent maneuvering of the lupine society has some interesting scares and some rather good special effects.  Till makes a rather blank hero, but Patterson and McHattie do a terrific job as fellow freedom fighters and Momoa, if occasionally over the top, is scary as a wolf drunk on his own power.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2014 All rights reserved. Posted: November 14, 2014.

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