It’s tough not to fall in love with a movie called WolfCop before even seeing it. Luckily, Lowell Dean’s new film delivers on the madness its title suggests. But it’s more than just an exploitation homage with retro-80s synths and hammy acting. WolfCop also works really well as an actual cop movie, in which the lone wolf (ahem) policeman takes on small town corruption. The film also makes some clever twists amidst the bloodshed and intrigue, resulting in a ridiculously entertaining creature feature that’s damn impossible to resist.
WolfCop tells the story of an alcoholic deputy with the not-so-subtle-name of Lou Garou (Leo Fafard). The small, rural town of Woodhaven he’s supposed to help keep orderly has given way to thugs, meth dealers, and a bevy of other lowlifes. But Lou would rather warm a barstool than clean up the streets. One night he’s sent on an unassuming call to break up a party in the woods and the next thing he knows, he wakes up at home with a pentagram carved into his chest (been there, bro).
A savage transformation is taking place inside Lou, one that’s somehow linked to Woodhaven’s annual drunken hunt festival. To stop the wolf inside him from completely taking over, Lou must do some actual police work for once in his career and get to the bottom of a supernatural scheme going back centuries.
Lou is joined by Willie (Jonathan Cherry), a gun shop owner and conspiracy theorist who’s both repulsed by and really digging his pal’s new wolf persona. Much of the film’s comedy is drawn from their scenes together and Willie’s reactions to Lou’s vicious methods for disposing of criminals (the practical gore in this film is AWESOME). A sultry bartender named Jessica (Sarah Lind) also lends a bit of a hand to Lou and fellow cop Tina (Amy Matysio) rounds out a solid cast that knows when to ham it up and when to play it straight. A lot of the reason the silliness of the premise works is because the actors are able to balance the ridiculous and the dramatic very well.
Like any good cop movie, not everyone is who they seem in Woodhaven. As Lou delves further into the town’s secrets, he has no choice but to embrace the wolf inside him, even if the transformation hurts like a bitch. We’ve seen dozens of werewolf transformations in horror, but with the advent of CGI, most contemporary ones look pretty cheap. But WolfCop goes full-on practical effects and the results are fantastic. Lou’s transformations are nasty, slimy, and (in one particular scene) hilarious. The wolf makeup looks great too, although the pink lip area that shows through sometimes skeeved me out (that’s not a complaint).
Lowell Dean and co. throw in some nice details too, like recurring radio shock jockeys, a local doughnut shop everyone seems to make a big deal of, and small historic details that help make Woodhaven feel like an actual place. That effort goes a long way in keeping the film from being completely ridiculous. One nice touch I loved was when WolfCop busts three crooks sporting pig masks. Three little pigs, c’mon, that’s perfect. There are a couple moments where I felt they were trying too hard (the sex scene), but you have to give some leeway to a film about a boozing cop that turns into a boozing wolf.
A perfect storm of creature action, the occult, gore, intrigue, humor, and lycanthropic puns, WolfCop is destined for cult glory. Lowell Dean could’ve easily embellished the exploitation premise and made a dumb, gory movie. Instead, WolfCop is a clever, charming little film driven by a kick ass blend of horror and cop movie, with buckets of comedy thrown in. Your eyeballs will never forgive you if you miss this one.
Does Lou learn anything in the end? Does he change his self-destructive ways? Can a wolf hold his liquor better than a man? All these questions will be answered when WolfCop hits select theaters June 6.
Or when WolfCop 2 comes out.