What’s good about Wolves is that it doesn’t go the way you think it will. Sure we are treated to the obligatory nightmare false start followed by a voice over narrated by angst ridden teen antagonist Cayden Richards (X-Men: First Class and Stoker star Lucas Till) that points to his gifted existence and all-star status as the high school quarterback dating the hottest girl in school but something lies under his skin and that something is desperate to get out.
From here however Wolves accelerates past other werewolf movies that treat the transformation from human to animal as a metaphor for teenage urges and adolescent growth such as the brilliant Teen Wolf and Ginger Snaps as Cayden attacks his girlfriend and rips apart his parents fleeing the town he grew up in as an outcast with an uncontrollable beast literally within him.
At this point the film penned and directed by comic book adaptor David Hayter, best known for writing Watchmen and Bryan Singer’s X-Men 1 and 2, revolves around Cayden’s search for his true origin and an explanation to the curse that causes him to become a wolf when the full moon rises.
Guided to the small town of Lupine Ridge by the insane one eyed Wild Joe (played by the always excellent John Pyper-Ferguson) Cayden discovers a community of werewolves living on a razors edge between peace and all-out war, the balance of which is tipped decidedly with his decision to stay.
Although adapted to modern society there is a strange feudal code underlying the monsters with the purebreds all descending from ancient families of which there are now very few left.
With most of the small populace known as Town Wolves living a peaceful existence one particularly evil pureblood named Connor (Game of Thrones Jason Momoa) has taken to living in the wild surrounded by a pack of half breed humans altered by being bitten. This savage set stay in wolf form more than any of the other werewolves and murder humans for sport and fun.
At odds with their lifestyle and lack of moral code Cayden comes into conflict with Conner and his followers but when dark secrets are revealed the pair are drawn into a bitter battle that can only end in death and destruction for both of them.
Taking a superhero storyline and placing it over lycanthropic mythology works reasonably well for Wolves helmer Hayter and the movie offers a more interesting alternative to the many Twilight-alike tween horror’s that have risen up since Breaking Dawn broke over the genre.
Well shot with some excellent stylized action sequences the effects are mainly practical rather than computer generated a welcome relief from the over animated movies dominating cinema and there is plenty of mauling, murder and wolf on wolf fights to keep any furry fields happy.
The films cast are all great with Lucas Till a more than capable leading man set against Jason Momoa’s hulking mass of muscle and menace. Accompanying the pair as Cayden’s gentle father figure is Stephen McHattie better known for his more hardcore characters in films such as Haunter and Pontypool and Merritt Patterson as the love interest with more fight and fire than your average damsel in distress.
Combing action, horror, drama and romance in a promising package packed with solid effects and monster make up Wolves is not as revolutionary as recent werewolf thriller Late Phases but as a howling good fun horror it’s worth giving over a full moon night to watch.
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