Directed by: Joe Johnston
Premise: A remake of the classic Universal horror film from 1941. After returning to his father’s estate, a man is bitten by a wolf and starts to turn into a wolf-like monster on the full moon.
What Works: Although The Wolf Man is a remake, the story takes many liberties with the original screenplay and in many ways it improves the story. Fans of the classic monster films will likely enjoy spotting the references to the original as well as homages to other werewolf films such as An American Werewolf in London, from which this film borrows heavily. The relationship between the father and son is put at the center of the story and the film plays with the themes of savagery and what it means to be civilized. The Wolf Man is also well cast with Benicio Del Toro bringing an air of tragedy to the role similar to Lon Chaney Jr. in the original film and Emily Blunt elevates her role beyond just a love interest.
What Doesn’t: The Wolf Man is way over-produced. Although the film looks very slick and has some impressive make up and art direction, it lacks a horrific or frightening atmosphere. The movie is just too loud, both visually and aurally, with an overbearing music score and blood and guts ostentatiously sprayed all over the place. There isn’t enough here that is primal or intimate to make it scary. Instead of a tribute or re-imagining of a classic, the film comes out no different from the many ultra-violent slasher films of recent years.
Bottom Line: The Wolf Man is a disappointing effort given the possibilities of the story and the resources put into the film. It just isn’t very scary nor does it capture the charm of the original film.
Episode: #277 (February 21, 2010)