Wolves David Hayter
Published Nov 13, 2014For what it is, X-Men scribe David Hayter's feature directorial debut, Wolves, is a passable bit of genre-subversion/hybrid coming-of-age fluff. It doesn't pretend to care about anything other than the broadest of narrative tropes and never once attempts to appeal to any audience that isn't specifically white heterosexual males under 30 (or under 50 if they have a blog). Within the confines of these expectations, it still isn't an exceptional film — straying too much from the tits and bloodshed to explain everyone's purpose in the second act — but it is quite slickly made and manages to work around the fact that none of the principal cast members can act.
Though it's a werewolf movie, Hayter's exercise in male ego identity analysis is framed like a traditional Western. Cayden (Lucas Till) realizes that his propensity for competitive sports and attracting the comeliest of corn-fed lasses doesn't stem from sheer awesomeness: he's a werewolf, something he realizes when he attempts to rape his girlfriend and shreds her to pieces. Shortly thereafter, he discovers the bodies of his parents in a bloody pile of meat and assumes his unruly hormones have being operating outside of his control. His response to this quandary is to flee the police and find smaller towns to hide out in.
This action is what defines our protagonist, a rapist with a heart of gold, as a traditional cowboy. He stumbles upon a werewolf drifter that inadvertently leads him to a redneck community of his brethren, where the women all look like Victoria's Secret models and the men are mostly scraggly hillbillies (save the generic villain played by Jason Momoa). Despite a relatively promising setup that feigns Near Dark implications without the irony or gender-consciousness, it's here that Wolves hits a roadblock that it never really overcomes.
There's a convoluted story about the local werewolf hottie Angelina (Merritt Patterson) being promised to yet another rapist (Momoa) for good breeding. And there are questions about Cayden's relation to his new friends and their backwards community that lead to some rather obvious answers that take way too long to explain. This incessant yapping is handled with pure, uninspired exposition amidst one-note characters that are never asked to do more than sneer at each other. As such, it's impossible to care who is related to who and why they've been manipulated into actions beyond their will.
Hayter does manage to craft a couple of kinetic action sequences that divide up the boring relationship rubbish and perfunctory building of a confused boy into a heroic man, but it barely masks the standard machinations of a story that merely placates the wounded fragility of male ego and instinct. Worse is that everything ostensibly culminates in a lot of standing around and posturing with hilariously overstrained gruff-talking (think Christian Bale's Batman but without the rubber suit), which can occasionally be funnier than it is intimidating.
The result is very middling, mediocre entertainment. It's probably a better idea for those looking to watch some solid Canadian werewolf films to revisit Ginger Snaps and Ginger Snaps 2.