In recent years, compelling representations of werewolves in modern cinema have been few and far between, with the depiction of the fearsome lycanthropes as big fluffy cuddly toys in the Twilight series as the complete nadir. David Hayter, known for his writing work on X-Men and Watchmen, makes his feature debut with Wolves, the kinetic tale of a teenager, Cayden, who in the wake of tragedy and discovery, sets out to find the truth about his family’s history, and stumbles upon a small community with a dark secret, leading him into a battle where love, life and freedom will depend on him embracing the animal within.

In truth, the narrative of the film is rather staid and familiar, lacking subtlety (Lupine Ridge anyone?) and almost dipping into small town melodrama at some points as secrets are revealed, love blossoms and betrayals unfurl. However, it is a credit to the cast that in spite of some of the narrative failings, you can’t help but commit to the characters, particularly the hero and villain at the heart of the film: Lucas Till’s unsure and tormented Cayden, and Jason Momoa’s hulking, menacing Connor. Till is a capable lead, able to evoke sympathy as his boy next door with the world at his feet loses everything to a legacy he never wanted. His depiction of Cayden’s growth through the film is the centre the audience clings to, even when you are tempted to roll your eyes at certain narrative leaps. The outstanding performance of the film belongs to the ever dependable Momoa, who clearly is having an absolute blast in his role. His enthusiasm and willingness to push the character into almost self-aware, moustache twirling levels of villainy is an absolute joy to watch, and combined with his overwhelming physicality, crafts a villain who is both playful and threating, in and out of the fantastic werewolf make up.

The most successful element of the film is the style Hayter commits to. Opening with a conventional set up that foregrounds Cayden within the clichéd American high school space, Hayter plunges the film directly into the realm of the excess with a stylised football sequence that ends with Cayden unleashing a taster of the beast lurking within. From that point onwards, the film moves rapidly as Cayden’s world unravels around him, with a pace and directness that reflects Cayden’s momentum, and establishes a pulpy comic vibe that continues to develop as the film continues. The inspiration of comic book storytelling and super heroics is absolutely evident in visual fluidity and set pieces that display the Werewolves’ abilities, including a flashback sequence told through hyper stylised still images, like a comic book displayed on screen. This idea is reinforced further as Cayden becomes a Clark Kent/Peter Parker figure, even displaying his strength and commitment to Americana when working as a farmhand, and finding a new father and mother figure, learning (in not so many words) that with great power comes a great responsibility. It’s a style that works remarkably well, and while in moments the quick breezy nature and lack of true violence and gore makes the film more akin to teen focused TV style storytelling, Hayter’s instincts work within the mythology of the werewolf, making it extremely engaging and at its best, boldly brilliant in relation to the audience it is targeting.

While Wolves isn’t anything ground-breaking in the context of the genre, straying too close to cliché and lacking the bite to make it stand out from the classics of the pack, it is refreshing to see a werewolf film willing to commit to an engaging, comic book inspired style and be imbued with such an enthusiastic sense of fun. If you are looking for a throwaway slice of lycan lunacy with a solid cast and a clear sense of style, Wolves is definitely a treat. It might lack the teeth to really set it among the alphas, but it’s still a rampage of slick, youthful entertainment.

DVD Review: Wolves
3.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk