Friday, February 12, 2010
I will admit that when I saw the previews for The Wolfman I was very skeptical because I hold the original in high regard. I haven’t seen the original but I remember how much it used to make me put my hands over my eyes. Well, I finally sucked it up and saw a midnight screening of it at our theater. I did not let any of the hype ruin the movie for me and paid very little attention to the reviews that were coming out… I went in with a clean slate. I came out… very, very, very pleased. In fact, I think it was one of the best remakes out there. I think if you really loved the original and you really know what made the original so memorable you can dish out a great remake. Though to me, it’s not on the same level as The Thing or The Blob but it did scare me a lot times.
The story opens up with a man chasing after something, little do we know that this thing that he is chasing after is a Wolfman and this Wolfman eventually mauls and kills this man… though we don’t see it. The brother of this man is Lawrence Talbot, who is a stage actor (Del Toro), who comes back to the town to attend his funeral and to find out who or what killed his brother. During his investigation he hears stories of a monster that is half man and half wolf, but a lot of the townspeople dismiss the tragedy and blame the gypsies and their trick bear. While Talbot pays the gypsies a visit, the Wolfman attacks the camp and eventually attacks Talbot and inevitably causing him to turn into a Wolfman. Now, hunted by Abberline (Hugo Weaving) from Scotland Yard and caught into a relationship, Talbot must find a way to lift the curse or suffer its consequences. There is a great twist in the movie that can be seen if you look hard enough.
Honestly, this movie has a very dark and gritty atmosphere to it and the set pieces were beautiful. Everything down to the Talbot mansion was just gorgeous. It’s so hard to come buy a good movie, nowadays, that pays a great homage to Gothic horror and this movie really nails it. The town of Blackmoore is dark, foggy, shadowy and very threatening… the kind of town that you’ll either get mauled by a Wolfman or by another animal. The tone is gritty and it really puts the audience right there in the picture. Even the scenes that take place in London are pretty eerie. A lot of people are saying that it’s going too far with the gothic setting and making it ‘too obvious,’ but I disagree. It makes the film all the more chilling.
As far as the scares go… I jumped good amount of times. People have said that it is pretty gory and it is, you see people getting their limbs chopped off, people getting skin peeled off their back, intestines all over the floor and really graphic maulings but the film doesn’t rely only on gore to get shock value. No, certain scenes that involve a bedroom and a hallucination really abuse the ‘jump out’ tactic. It scares you, then it gives you a second to recover and then it goes in for the kills and scares you again. It doesn’t let you rest! The sequence at the gypsy camp is by far one of the freakiest scenes that I saw. You hardly see anything and that’s what makes it so good.
One thing that I know is on everybody’s mind and that is the transformation scenes and how they may or may not ruin it with CGI. Honestly, I wasn’t bothered by the CGI at all. The first transformation scene is choppy and it only focuses on his arms and his legs and the rest is all in shadow, which was great. It didn’t look corny, it didn’t look crappy and it didn’t make me laugh. The second, and more visual, transformation scene was good and yeah… at times it looked fake but it played out really good. The way he transformed looked really painful (kind of how American Werewolf in London looked) and they had a keen eye for detail. The design for the Wolfman was pretty damn creepy and pays some tribute to the original and Landis’ werewolf design. I know some people might be a little picky on how he runs on all fours but I found it appealing. Hell, even for me, the howl of the Wolfman was actually pretty terrifying.
I can’t really compare it to the original since it’s been a while since I saw the 1941 version but there are some similarities and some differences as always. The cane with the wolf head has been switched, for example. Many of you know that I am normally against remakes and on rare occasions I will actually enjoy a remake, this was a remake that I would see again and years to come. It’s not a fun remakes like Amityville Horror and My Bloody Valentine but a genuinely scary film. I was shocked when I saw that Joe Johnston directed this movie (I hated Jurassic Park III and Hidalgo) and even more shocked when I learned that Danny Elfman scored it. It doesn’t look or sound like either of their work, that I am aware of. I recommend this movie to any horror fan but please, don’t see it if you aren’t willing to set your remake differences aside. If you are willing to be open minded on it, you’d enjoy it better. They left it open for a continuation… but if we stay pure in heart and say our prayers by night maybe we can prevent a sequel from happening.