Monday 1 March 2010

The Wolf at the Door

Are you tired of sexy vampires and mindless zombies? Well, don’t despair; the werewolf is back! The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston and starring Benico del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Hopkins and Hugo Weaving is a good old-fashioned gothic horror. It looks and feels very much like a tribute movie, a close remake of the 1941 movie classic of the same name starring Lon Chaney Junior.

I quite like tribute movies, attempts to recapture something of the feel of the atmosphere of the original. I liked King Kong, the 2005 remake of the 1933 original. The Wolfman was also quite enjoyable but somehow it seemed to be lacking in something, lacking in any real spark. It plodded along for the most part quite nicely but in an altogether pedestrian fashion.

There are some good performances, particularly that of Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot, and the tension between him and Benico del Toro, playing Lawrence Talbot, his son, works very well at points. But the love story, the growing relationship between Lawrence and Gwen Conliffe, played by Emily Blunt, is weak and unconvincing. More than that, it’s ever so slightly distasteful in that Gwen is supposed to be getting over the gruesome killing of Ben, Lawrence’s brother and her fiancée. It may not have mattered that much but this relationship has a key part to play in the movie’s final resolution.

Although there are some good moments and the werewolf transformations are good, if a little primitive by the standards of movies like The Howling or An American Werewolf in London, the whole thing seems disjointed. I understand there were some serious problems during production and the first director left under a cloud. Well, it shows. Yes, it’s a tribute movie and thus has a rather old fashioned feel to it, but old fashioned very much in the B class: quite enjoyable but instantly forgettable.


  1. Shame it was dissapointing, having never seen a Werewolf film I'll probably wait until it's played on Sky Movies.

    And Nosferatu of course featured a diamond in the rough. I wonder if when released it prompted hoards young women to congregate in large groups and scream loudly at whichever actor played Count Orlok - standards have clearly improved.

    I miss mindless zombies :(. Ones which amble about slowly, and don't run or do much besides isolating you on mass (en masse?). They've become a vehicle for cheap thrills since 28 Days Later - the whole point is that you board yourself up in a poorly fortified house or loft, and by their sheer numbers they bare down on you relentlessly. The anxiety it provokes should be unbearable. Having to survive by not letting your whereabouts be known. They should be films which hold a mirror to your existence, one of conformity - in the end society will beat you down and make an exemplary citizen of you yet.

  2. Jimmy, if you've never seen a werewolf movie I would recommend An American Werewolf In London. It's a kind of horror comedy with some super transformations. I love Nosferatu, both the original and the remake. Oh, you won't have to wait long before you see another zombie movie. It's impossible to keep these guys down. :-))