In case you weren’t aware, comedy and werewolves do work. Ignoring Frank Dekker’s classic Monster Squad for a moment (wolfman got nards, after all), you have films like The Howling, An American Werewolf In London and Dog Soldiers that balance the humour and the horror of lycanthropes quite nicely, without venturing into goofy territory. Which brings us to Tony Jopia’s Crying Wolf. The film is one of those that immerses itself in the realm of the self-aware gags and humour, but in hindsight, probably wasn’t the wisest decision. Especially when the film has problems that humour can’t fix.
A private detective (Gary Martin) ventures into the small town of Deadington seeking the source of a series of brutal killings. While there, a particular book in a shop catches his eye. After stealthily acquiring it, the gumshoe heads to a local pub and begins to read. The book, “Crying Wolf,” tells the tale of a pack of werewolves residing in the town of Deadington. Told through a series of flashbacks, the book’s story and the film’s own story begin to cross paths.
Probably Crying Wolf‘s main positive is its attempts at humour. The film as mentioned before is one that’s self-aware, and as such revels in gags and clichés that many will immediately recognize. I dug the James Bond-esque opening credits, which sadly the only other film to mimic this type of sequence was Friday The 13th Part 6. There’s no justice in this world. Adding to it is the film’s British origins, which leaves the door open for cockney humour and exploitation of British stereotypes. It’s a cute mix that while may not play well with those who aren’t in the mood for that type of thing, it’s somewhat of a nice distraction.
On the gore and effects front, it’s a mixed bag. While I enjoyed the use of some of the traditional latex and practical effects (feeding someone their own heart is pretty cool), there’s an obvious cheapness to some of them, and as such makes their blatant attempts to hide some of their cheapness way too obvious. Case in point: The werewolf transformations are painfully obvious in their CG origins. Even when mixed with practical effects, the CGI is so poorly tracked that you see the effect shifting over the practical (the eyes of the werewolf near the start of the film, for example).
The effects aren’t the worst part, mind you. Quite simply, Crying Wolf a mess of ideas that are unfortunately poorly executed. For starters, the story-within-a-story amounts to flashbacks that derail the story within the story itself. Confused? You aren’t the only one. The film ends up throwing in so many random flashbacks and redundant backstories for characters that it’s practically impossible to follow what’s going on. Speaking of the characters, they’re of the two-dimensional type that fail to garner any sort of endearing quality. While the actors may have been having fun regurgitating the “funny” dialogue, what results is an exercise in frustration and torture for those having to endure watching this. Throwing in seemingly non-sequitur moments (ninjas?) doesn’t help, either. The final 15 minutes is intended to be balls-out mayhem, but in actuality is a mess of overly-loud music mixed in with bad CGI and even worse dialogue.
Crying Wolf falls far from its intended target. Some of the humour might be worth a giggle at its best, but painfully unfunny and forced for the majority of the film. The effects suffer much of the same fate, neither hiding their CG origins nor making any attempt at quality. Toss in forgettable characters with lame dialogue with a story that’s a victim of its own ambition, and Crying Wolf fails to convince me that it’s an entertaining film. Stick with one of the above-mentioned films for your quality werewolf humour/horror fix.