Craig J. Clark — May. 20th 2016
A British horror-comedy that succeeds at being neither horrific nor funny, Crying Wolf fails on the former front because it’s too incompetently made for any of its intended shocks to register. And it fails on the latter front because its humor is far too broad and its cast of characters stocked with insufferable caricatures given naught but inane dialogue to recite. The only thing remotely “funny” about it is the fact that its top-billed “star” — horror vet Caroline Munro — appears in one scene only at the very beginning of the film, never to return. I hope she made a point of cashing her check as soon as it arrived in the post.
Set in the quaint country village of Deddington (are we laughing yet?), Crying Wolf comes burdened with a cumbersome framing story about a private detective (second-billed Gary Martin, whose character is never given a name) who buys a book of that title from an antiques dealer (Munro) which he proceeds to peruse at the local pub. Instead of being an ancient tome, though, it rather improbably tells the tale of a modern-day pack of werewolves which fell prey to a pair of paranormal pest controllers in the none-too-distant past. These events are so recent, in fact, that the reason the detective is nosing around town is because he’s looking into the death of a newspaper reporter who was looking into the mysterious death of a local girl, both of which are recounted in flashbacks that are not to be confused with the stories told by the pack to pass the time while they’re out on a camping holiday-cum-hunting expedition together or when they were bullshitting the soon-to-be-dead reporter. Yep, totally straightforward, movie. Not unnecessarily convoluted at all.
At the center of the drama, such as it is, are alpha Milly (Gabriela Hersham) and her recently turned lover Andy (Kristofer Dayne). In fact, everyone else in the pack has been recently turned as well since Andy put the bite on them within minutes of being infected by Milly at the same time she eliminated the aforementioned local girl. (Seems she’s not fond of competition.) The others are a varied lot, each with a single defining trait — one’s a toothless old codger, another smokes a pipe, etc. — but they all turn into the same exact black-furred, rubber-faced creature when they transform, and the only way to tell which one is which is when they’re killed and revert back to human form. They’re also subject to the same cheap-ass digital effects when they let their wolfish side out, which doesn’t happen en masse until the end of the film, when director Tony Jopia lingers on the worst CGI transformations I’ve ever had the misfortune to see.
Not content merely to half-ass their way through a werewolf film, Jopia and his co-writers, screenwriter Andy Davie and story collaborator Michael Dale, periodically digress into other genres, including gangster films (pointlessly referencing the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction), slasher movies (in the scene where one topless sunbather tells her impressionable friend about all the bad things that could happen to them out in the woods, including being stalked by a hooded killer), and action films. The latter come into play during the climactic showdown between the pack and the well-armed hunters that have led them down the garden path, and frankly, by the time they started getting shot to pieces and otherwise dismembered, I was more than ready to see their ranks thinned out. There’s even a dollop of torture porn courtesy of the scene where one of the hunters chains up one of the werewolves and pulls out a chainsaw, prompting the wolf to say, “Oh, great. A fucking chainsaw. What are you going to do with that?” “Funny you might ask that,” the hunter replies. No, it is not, Crying Wolf. It’s lousy screenwriting and you should be ashamed of it.