Review: “The Wolfman” (2010)

The Silver Bullet WILL slow you down.

Resting comfortably between the shrieking borefest that was Van Helsing and the lush gorefest of Sleepy Hollow, The Wolfman is not the unmitigated disaster that many were expecting … or even, let’s admit it, hoping for.

But while this revamp of the Universal monster property clearly had aspirations of achieving the giddy grand guignol tone of Tim Burton’s head-rolling epic (they even brought Sleepy Hollow scribe Andrew Kevin Walker and composer Danny Elfman on board), it is neither strange nor inspired enough to be much more than yet another shrug-off period misfire good for a few jumps and even more laughs.

The Wolfman (could that be … Irving Wolfman?) tells the classic man-bites-man story with few frills and only one easily foreseeable twist: A lapsed nobleman (Benicio del Toro, in the miscasting of the century) returns home after his brother is mauled to death by the titular beast, he in turn is bitten and becomes the beast himself, and in the process his brother’s hot fiancee (Emily Blunt) falls for him, backhair and all.

“Wait, you mean this isn’t Dracula Part II? Terribly sorry!”

Toss in a scrappy, big-game-hunter father (Anthony Hopkins), a prissy Scotland Yard inspector (Hugo Weaving, tongue literally planted in cheek for much of the film) and buckets and buckets of gore, and you’ve got a remake that’s just silly enough to entertain but just unneccessary enough to disappoint.

First, let’s talk about the gore. I love me some good gore, and in that department (and that department alone), Irving Wolfman does NOT disappoint. It’s ridiculously gory – we get oodles of graphic eviscerations, numerous beheadings, and entrails literally splash across the screen several times.

Were it not for the unbridled grisliness of the proceedings, Wolfman would be utterly unmemorable, so I’m glad that they decided to go balls-out (although I’m still a bit shocked that a studio film of this size would dare to be so over-the-top).

Hey, now. At least you didn’t pay for 3-D.

Favorite gore moment: During a massacre at a gypsy camp early in the film that is so badly staged that it initially seems to be some sort of joke, the big bad wolf rams his paw through a policeman’s chin, and his claws come out of the poor guy’s mouth. And all of this bloodshed coming from the guy who directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? J’adore.

Next, let’s talk about the design of the wolfmen. I like that the filmmakers decided to keep things classic, with the creature being more man than wolf and standing mostly upright, fully-clothed. Because, really – every girl and an estimated 10% of guys are crazy for a sharp-dressed wolf.

But the classic wolfman is actually a bit odd-looking, precisely because he is more “man” than “wolf”, and at times the sight of the furry little guy was more of the amusing, “hey-isn’t-that-Chaka-from-Land-of-the-Lost-ripping-that-woman-in-half” variety than the “oh-shit-David-Naughton-is-get-Welsh-on-my-ass” variety.

Thank you, Glamorshots!

Case in point: During the climactic wolf-on-wolf scene, one of the wolfmen gets a little over-excited and rips off his fancy shirt like a WWE Wrestler playing to a crowd of rednecks. After this, when he and the other wolfman proceed to rassle, the effect is less that of two ferocious monsters battling for survival and more akin to Two-Stepping Night at the Eagle.

“Daddaaaaaaaaaaay!”

Anyway, The Wolfman isn’t a total disaster, and you could certainly find worse ways to spend your twelve bucks. But let me use the advice that should have been given to spectacularly undercommitted star Benicio del Toro wheen he took this role: Don’t go in hoping for too much.

Seriously, by the end of the movie del Toro looks downright bored to still be there. Adjust your own expectations accordingly, and you might not wind up howling at the moon over what will no doubt be yet another quickly-forgotten remake.

RATING (OUT OF 5):

ReviewThreeSkully

Irving Wolfman is rated R for graphic violence, gratuitous howling, wolf-nipples, and grievous and perhaps irreversible damage to the Universal classics.

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Buzz created CampBlood.org in 2003 to meet a need for a safe place for weirdos of all stripes to discuss horror movies from a queer perspective. Now that the campers have overtaken the Camp staff and locked them in the Arts & Crafts cabin he is questioning that decision.