You’re Gonna Start A Howl (Wolfcop review)
I like to think I’ve seen my share of horror movies. Mainly because I’m a child of the 80’s and horror movies were in their heyday between the 1980s and 1990s, so just as I was growing up I got to know the major successes of the time and watch them in the comfort (read: discomfort) of my parents basement.
But the thing about horror movies is that they come out all the time and haven’t really slowed down by any means since that supposed heyday.
What that means for the novice movie watcher or the aged veteran, is that there are now all kinds of genre benders out there, and there is a good chance that you haven’t seen them all yet. Which is where this week’s entry comes in.
Cast: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, Sarah Lind, Jesse Moss
Director: Lowell Dean
released on blu-ray March 10, 2015
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%, Audience Score 46%
The Guardian: ***/*****
Lowell Dean is a Canadian film maker – yay for Canadian content! He has directed two feature films to date, 13 Eerie which was released in theatres in 2013 and Wolfcop which was released in theatres in 2014. I scoured the internet, including IMDB, Wikipedia and even his personal website, in the hopes of explaining his directorial style some more but unfortunately that was all I could find. Oh, I also know he was born in 1979 which makes him 37 or 38 years old.
So yeah. There’s not much to go on in the way of an introduction.
But sometimes that’s what happens with indie films, you don’t get a lot in the way of traditional information. And further to that point, the content often strays from your typical fare because, dammit, it can.
Taken from Wikipedia and edited,
Lou Garou (Leo Fafard), an alcoholic cop in the small community of Woodhaven, spends most of his day either asleep at work or at Jessica’s (Sarah Lind) bar. When his friend Willie Higgins (Jonathan Cherry) phones in a complaint of occult activity in the area of his gun store, the police chief (Aidan Devine) sends Garou to investigate. After meeting with Higgins, Garou dismisses his concerns as the actions of heavy metal fans. Higgins again reports a disturbance, and the chief forces Garou to investigate. When he arrives at the scene, Garou finds occultists in the middle of a ceremony to sacrifice an upstart politician who was running on a platform of reform and anti-corruption. Garou is knocked out and wakes up the next morning in his bed, not remembering how he got there, though he has a pentagram carved into his stomach.
Garou’s senses become extremely sharp, and his wounds heal near-instantly. As he investigates the case, he surprises Jessica and his coworkers, all of whom had written him off as lazy and incompetent. As he goes over his notes at Jessica’s bar, she encourages him to drink more and invites him to join her privately. Before he can, two criminals part of a local gang sneak into the bar and attack him in the bathroom. Garou, who is in the middle of a transformation into a werewolf, easily kills one and drives off the other. Angry that they did not kidnap Garou, the gang leader stabs out the eye of the escaped gangster when he claims to have seen Garou transform into a monster. Meanwhile, Garou ends up in Higgins’ house, handcuffed to the bed. Higgins explains that he captured Garou and restrained him for his own safety. Higgins later researches his condition, and they learn that occult ceremonies in which a werewolf is sacrificed can strengthen the magic of reptilian shapeshifters.
Garou and his partner, Tina (Amy Matysio), investigate the deaths at the bar and a series of seemingly unrelated armed robberies by a gang who wear pig masks. Higgins convinces Garou that he must be restrained at night, and Garou submits to being locked in the town’s jail. However, when the police station receives a call for help, Garou, who has since transformed into a werewolf but has retained his human intelligence, dons his policeman’s uniform and heads to the local supermarket, where the pig-mask gang have taken hostages. Garou savagely kills all the pig-mask robbers and heads toward a meth lab. Higgins cowers in the car as Garou again savagely kills several gun-wielding gangsters…
This movie is rather short, as most horror and comedy films are, and it takes full advantage of the runtime to slowly draw you in and assimilate your sensibilities. It does this so that all of a sudden that when the final 25 minutes start to creep in, you haven’t realized how casually you’ve invested in the construction.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing, because the movie starts slow and is somewhat confusing, but as you understand Lou, the town of Woodhaven and it’s characters you almost feel robbed of more movie. On top of that Wolfcop walks a fine balance between the nostalgia of practical effects and the impracticality of them in execution. You can tell that the crew had fun making the movie, that’s for sure.
Pros: The spin Wolfcop takes on the werewolf mythology is charming, funny, and something to be appreciated. Of course, it helps that it takes it’s cues from the campiness of the 1980s. That’s the beauty of Postmodernism though, taking dissimilar concepts like a werewolf and a police officer, combining them, and producing interesting results.
Cons: Because this is unexplored territory and the comedy uneven, not all of the jokes come through – They are particularly dry. I wish that more time was spent on developing the humour of the situation.
Runtime: 1 hours 19 minutes
Points of Interest: The film exists in distribution because Dean was awarded the 2013 CineCoup Film Accelerator, worth $1 million in financing. The main character is is named Lou Garou which is a play on words. In French loup garou means werewolf.
So there you have it, a movie about an alcoholic cop turned werewolf and filmed in Canada exists. It’s rare for Canadian film to be part of the horror landscape (think Ginger Snaps), and even stranger still for a movie to do well, but it is in a fine tradition.
The truth is that Wolfcop isn’t doing anything tremendously new or interesting as it relates to horror movies, but what it does do, it has a lot of fun doing. Sure, there are lots of horror comedies out there, but that doesn’t mean that they are Canadian born and breed. As I mentioned earlier, maybe you haven’t watched a horror movie in a while, so If you want to try something “new” Wolfcop will likely surprise you, in a good way.
But that’s just a theory. What do you think? Have you seen Wolfcop? It’s been out for a couple of years now, but it’s not stale by any means. I’m done for now friends, I’ll see you tomorrow with some wisdom.