The Hair of the Beast Philippe Gagnon

The Hair of the Beast Philippe Gagnon
In a broad, quick and dirty comparative sense, Quebecois werewolf thriller Hair of the Beast isn't quite Ginger Snaps or even Ginger Snaps: Unleashed. No, its roots are firmly planted in Ginger Snaps Back territory, from the laboured, clumsy execution to "Pioneer Village" costume and set design. It is, however, coherent in narrative, unlike that unnecessary feminist horror sequel, which is banner news for fans of 15th Century French-Canadian genre-amalgamation allegories with fat jokes and the occasional reference to bestiality. Opening in 1665 Quebec, reluctant antihero Joseph Côté (Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge) is arrested and sentenced to death for petty theft and unlawful coitus, setting the stage for a riff on propriety and tradition. Expanding on this sense of irreverence, he escapes and assumes the identity of a dead Jesuit priest, only to wind up in an isolated rural community with a Lord, his gang of workers and glorified whores battling lycanthropes with a crossbow that literally shoots crosses. In theory, this pseudo-cowboy setup free from modern weaponry and technology could generate an effective, chilling horror film. Instead, it has more of a Bloodrayne vibe, masking budgetary limitations by having the monsters off-screen whenever possible and awkwardly grasping for comedy without the wits or variation in character archetypes to pull it off. Fortunately, some mythological exposition implies that a man banged a she-wolf, got her pregnant and raised her pups (plural), which conjures up a variety of amusing images of biological impossibility and physical distortion (that poor, pregnant wolf!). In the 40-minute "Making of" supplement, which is available in French-only, the cast are genuinely enthusiastic about the project, citing positive on-set energy, commenting on how clever it is to mix genres. But this only makes the overall impotence of the film that much more disappointing. Maybe director Philippe Gagnon will learn from the experience, employing various lighting techniques and stylization to mask a cheap film in the future rather than basking everything in flat, high lighting that exacerbates the sheer crappiness of the entire production. (Seville)