When I first heard about this month’s Full Moon Feature, it was called 13Hrs, a reference to how long its protagonists have to hold out (until dawn, essentially) when they’re beset by an unknown (and barely seen) creature. When it finally came out on DVD — two years after its UK release in September 2010 — it was renamed Night Wolf, presumably so Lionsgate could have a much easier time selling it as a werewolf movie. Set in and around, but mostly in the spacious attic of, a remote English country house, Night Wolf devotes the first quarter of its scant 85-minute running time to introducing us to the characters who will spend the majority of their time in between monster attacks sniping at each other unpleasantly.
First up, there’s Los Angeles transplant Sarah (Isabella Calthorpe), who’s back home for a few weeks but hasn’t been for eight months, which is the first thing she’s ribbed about by her three brothers (some of whom are half-brothers, although the dialogue doesn’t make plain which are which). The most dickish of them is Stephen (Peter Gadiot), who has started sleeping with Sarah’s best friend Emily (Gemma Atkinson) in the interim to get back at her for some unspoken transgression. Charlie (Gabriel Thomson) and Luke (Antony De Liseo) are less-defined, which is understandable in the latter’s case since he spends most of the film sleeping off his first high out in the barn while they others are trapped in the attic, having retreated there after discovering the boys’ father eviscerated in his bed. Rounding out the main cast are their stoner friend Gary (Tom Felton, a.k.a. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films), who is the beast’s second victim (well, third if you count the dog), and Doug (Joshua Bowman), who’s nursing an unmistakable crush on Sarah.
Nearly every one of director Jonathan Glendening’s aesthetic decisions appears to have been economically motivated, from the limited cast to the isolated location (translation: no extras) to the fact that it’s nearly over before we’re allowed to get a decent look at its monster. When we do, it’s decidedly not hairy, which leads to a curious morning-after scene when it’s human again and is revealed to be completely hairless. Actually, that should be “when they’re human again,” because this is the sort of werewolf film where one of the characters gets bitten early on and later discovers the wound isn’t as bad as they originally thought, which can only mean one thing, etc. It’s also the sort of film where two sets of characters at two different times start inexplicably making out right in the middle of the crisis, which is precisely the sort of thing that makes me throw up my hands in frustration. I had a different reaction, though, when one of them gets hold of a shotgun and accidentally blows their own head off with it. That I actually applauded.
By the way, the trailer for Night Wolf/13Hrs heralds the fact that it’s from the producers of Dog Soldiers, a comparison that does it no favors. As for Glendening, his follow-up to this was 2012’s Strippers vs Werewolves, a film I have not seen and have no desire to see. Even I have my limits.