Full Moon Features: Monsterwolf (2010)

I know not to expect great things from Syfy Original Movies, but even by their low, low standards, Monsterwolf (which premiered ten years ago this month) is aggressively mediocre and dramatically inert. The main conflict stems from whether Louisiana girl-turned-wannabe high-powered New York lawyer Maria Bennett (Leonor Varela, who was Arrested Development‘s first Marta) will help the nakedly evil Holter Oil Company and its sleazy CEO Stark (Robert Picardo, a long way from The Howling) rape her people’s land. Yes, you guessed it. It’s the old “oil company surveying team accidentally releases the animal spirit of a long-vanished Native American tribe which proceeds to eliminate them and anybody foolish enough to sell out to them” plot we’ve all seen a hundred times before. Only this time it features Jason London (following in his twin’s footsteps one year after Jeremy starred in the execrable Wolvesbayne) as Maria’s redneck ex-boyfriend Yale, who comes complete with a runner about how he has an outstanding warrant for his arrest because he ducked out of jury duty. That’s what passes for comic relief to screenwriter Charles Bolon, who figured he would conserve characters by making Maria’s father the local sheriff (Marc Macaulay) who’s investigating the wolf attacks that have targeted Holter’s employees, especially when it catches them littering or driving drunk.

In the role of the Native American Who Knows What’s Going On, Man, Monsterwolf gives us Chief Turner (Steve Reevis, Fargo‘s Shep Proudfoot), whose stories about the brave warrior who turned himself into a spirit wolf to protect his tribe and the other warrior who had to sacrifice himself to lay the wolf to rest are rendered in adorably simplistic animation. And in the role of Yale’s annoying best friend we’ve got full-on redneck stereotype Chase, who’s played by Wolvesbayne director Griff Furst, who also served as this film’s co-producer and second unit director. I haven’t even mentioned Coughlin (Jon Eyez), the cigar-chomping, pretentious, knotted-beard-having mercenary called in by Stark to take out the wolf and, failing that, Chief Turner. At least while he’s around, director Todor Chapkanov appears to be marginally engaged in the action, but the combination of practical wolf effects (for the extreme closeups) and CGI (for the medium and long shots) only serves to highlight the artificiality of both.