Genre Pictures VI

film 3 of 4

The Wolfman

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

The wolf man was the most synthetic, the most manufactured of the classic Hollywood monsters, the least rooted in tradition and myth. The 1942 film has atmosphere and exposition, and moments, and not as much resonance as some of the others. That may mean that the possibilities are lesser with a project like this, or maybe that the stakes are lower. That’s just for me, mind, as a viewer. In real life this was a troubled production, mounting up production costs, being subject to repeated postponements and delays, underwhelming both at the box office, and with most critics.

Well, I liked it. I think this take/remake is quite satisfying, a real roller coaster, with some surprising stores of feeling.

More than anything I’d say that The Wolfman is a solid genre excursion. As is generally, or as is always the case in these blockbusting days, it’s way extended and elaborated over the original. It’s not bloated, though. The effects are gratuitous, but in a principled way. (What have we come to?) Del Toro and Hopkins provide a really interesting dramatic or performative balance. It’s kind of refreshing to see two such eccentric turns in a big commercial film.

The script spends a fair amount of time considering endemic corruption in, and of, the landed gentry. I doubt that this American film, produced by a Mexican guy, means too much by this. The Wolfman is a very good entry in the sympathetic monster category. When we get to that classroom—shades of Night of/Curse of the Demon—we feel for our well-meaning good guy, and for the poor saps that are about to get massacred by him. Moving forward, I found that the salvific female character really registered, and that the conclusion was properly poignant.