'Wolves': Film Review

Courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment
You've heard these wolf cries before

A teenager discovers his inner lycanthrope in David Hayter's horror film

There's no shortage of useful information that can be gleaned from horror movies. For instance, in Wolves we learn that werewolves of the "purebred" variety are much more powerful than ones who merely entered their altered state by being bitten. Who knew that there was a werewolf caste system?

Well, David Hayter, for one. Making his feature directorial debut, the screenwriter of Watchmen and two X-Men films and famous in certain circles as the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid video game series, has gone the teen wolf route in this R-rated opus that will force its target audience to buy tickets for adjoining PG attractions at their local multiplex.

Not that many of them will bother for this familiar-feeling effort that will attract its biggest audiences on VOD, where's it been playing for almost a month.

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Lucas Till (X-Men: Days of Future Past) plays the central role of Cayden, a good-looking high school quarterback with the requisite beautiful girlfriend who finds his life turned upside down when he discovers his true nature. When his parents are brutally murdered, presumably by him in his lycanthropic state, he's forced to go on the lam and winds up in the small town of Lupine Ridge.

The moniker is appropriate, because it's the home of warring clans of wolves, one of which is led by the menacing biker-type Connor (Jason Momoa, Game of Thrones). Taken under the wing of a kindly farmer (reliable veteran actor Stephen McHattie), Cayden soon develops an attraction for the beautiful Angelina (Merrit Patterson, Ravenwood), who's unfortunately committed to perpetuating Connor's purebred bloodline. Indeed, the entire town receives a "mating invitation" to witness the event.

That's one of the wittier touches in Hayter's otherwise derivative screenplay, with another being Cayden's lament after being injured in a fight with the other wolves.

"I need a hospital. Or a vet, or something," he complains.

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Also amusing is Cayden's wild sexual encounter with Angelina, with both of them transforming into their animalistic selves at the height of their passion. In the press notes, the filmmaker comments that the film was inspired by his first sexual encounter, and all that can said, is more power to him.

Eventually, all hell breaks loose, as Cayden discovers his true father's identity (hint: think Star Wars) and a climactic battle ensues between the werewolf clans which produces the inevitable high body count.

Largely forgoing the CGI effects usually endemic to such efforts, the film has the actors clad in werewolf suits and make-up designed by Dave and Lou Elsey that produce a slightly ludicrous effect, as if they were unusually large kids trick-or-treating. That the characters maintain their full powers of speech only adds to the silliness, although the hunky lead performers manage to carry it off with hirsute sexiness.

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Although he's no Michael J. Fox as the teen wolf, Till is appealing enough to carry the film, and the charismatic Momoa, looking like a debauched rocker, has infectious fun with his bad guy role. But their efforts are not above to lift Wolves above the endless, pardon the pun, pack, of YA-oriented werewolf projects.

Production: Copperheart Entertainment
Cast: Lucas Till, Stephen McHattie, John Pyper-Ferguson, Merrit Patterson, Jason Momoa, Janet-Laine Green
Director/screenwriter: David Hayter
Producer: Steven Hoban
Executive producers: Hartley Gorenstein, Steven Paul, Mark Smith
Director of photography: Gavin Smith
Production designer: Craig Lathrop
Editor: Geoff Ashenhurst
Costume designer: Patrick Antosh
Composer: Philip J. Bennet
Casting: John Buchan, Jason Knight

Rated R, 91 min.