Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wolfman, Ack!

The Wolfman is the second horror movie I saw over the weekend. If you read yesterday's Shutter Island review, I said there was a second horror film I'd seen over the weekend and that I didn't like the other one. You may now have a hint as to how this review is going to go.

To quickly sum up, The Wolfman hates joy, love, beauty, intelligence and all else that is good and holy. It took one of those perfectly decent 1930s horror films that still in many ways holds up today and turned it into a celebration of clinical depression. That's absolutely true, by the way. The only character in The Wolfman who isn't clinically depressed is a sadistic sociopath.

In the original, Lawrence Talbot was a regular guy 1930s American everyman played by Lon Chaney Jr. In this "remake" or "reboot" or "retard" or whatever the hell this is called, Talbot is now a British nobleman-turned-actor in the 1890s played by Benicio Del Toro. He apparently became an actor to get the hell away from his father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). He comes home after his brother was killed in a brutal animal attack. The title should be a dead giveaway as to what sort of animal it was. When he arrives his father quickly establishes himself as the same unfeeling A-Hole that caused him to leave years earlier and enter a profession that, back then, was considered to be unseemly. Lawrence also meets Gwen (Emily Blunt), his late brother's fiance. Gwen appears to have some sort of genetic predisposition to falling in love with members of the Talbot family as she quickly becomes attracted to Lawrence even though the supposed love of her life has only been dead a month.

As sundown approaches, Sir John does the first good thing he's even done for Lawrence. He tells him he should stay indoors during this, the night of the full moon. Lawrence promptly ignores that helpful bit of advice and goes riding out into the woods in the middle of the night to speak to some gypsies who may have information about his brother's death. Why he couldn't talk to these gypsies when the sun was up is a mystery but luckily he was riding through one of those forests whose trees naturally grow 500 watt klieg lights so he got there with no problem. Not so fortunately, he got there just as the camp came under attack from a werewolf. Lawrence ends up bitten and you know what that means. If you were wondering who the original werewolf that bit Lawrence is, by the way, it's not hard to figure out.

At this point in the movie, the only person who attempted to crack a smile is Sir John and that was only when he seemed to be amused by the pain of others. In fact, I can't remember a single moment when any other character appeared to be happy about anything. You'd think Lawrence and Gwen would have experienced a happy moment or two when they were falling in love. Instead, it was more like they were taking their mutual depression and combining into a big, depressing goo ball of sad, sticky love. Eventually a Scotland Yard detective played by Hugo Weaving puts together a group of werewolf hunters who, naturally, decide the best time to hunt werewolves is the night of the full moon. The results of this action are depressingly predictable which is good because at least the movie is consistent in sticking with its depressing themes.

There is a conclusion to this story that both allows every to return to their sad, dreary existences and also leaves room for a sequel, an idea that is extremely depressing.

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