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Release Date: November 14, 2014 (Limited)
Currently available via VOD platforms
Director: David Hayter
MPAA Rating: R

If you were a fan of HBO’s True Blood but found it desperately lacking in its lycanthropic side, then David Hayter’s Wolves is for you. Although it has decidedly fewer fairies and moody goth vampires, it does have plenty of burly biker werewolves and plenty of silly drama. This is a B movie to be sure, but the forgettable characters and action beats make this pup feel slightly neutered.

Wolves tells the age-old tale of Cayden (Lucas Till), a teenage werewolf (a teen wolf, if you will), who discovers his affliction after maiming his girlfriend and possibly slaughtering his parents. After fleeing from the police, he stumbles into a town that happens to be filled to the brim with wolves not unlike himself. A local farmer, played by Stephen McHattie, takes him in and gives him a job, and he meets and falls for a young wolf girl by the name of Angelina (Merritt Patterson). For a second things seem to be looking up for Cayden until he begins to scrap with a rough gang of wolves led by Connor (Jason Momoa).

Writer-director David Hayter previously wrote the screenplays for The Watchmen and X-Men 2, and in a lot of ways this film feels like an X-Men movie if, instead of an eclectic group of misfits all having unique powers, it was nothing but Beast duking it out with other variations of Beast.

Basically, the creature design in this film looked exactly like Beast in the X-Men movies only not blue. This gives the wolves in this movie a classic Universal Monster look, and deviates from the True Blood or Hemlock Grove method of just turning into a regular wolf, but at times it just looks goofy within the context of the film, especially when characters are conversing with one another while in wolf form.

Everything in Wolves felt subdued, almost as if the filmmakers were attempting to nab a PG-13 rating and didn’t bother to appeal when they got hit with an R. Twice during the film someone attempted to drop an F-bomb only to get drowned out with some other noise, and the violence, while certainly not bloodless, feels more in line with MTV’s Teen Wolf than some of the crazy gore seen in Hemlock Grove. Other than looking vaguely like an actual film, this could easily be mistaken for a made for TV movie.

Hayter’s script provides some solid dialogue and a few surprisingly comedic moments, but there are just as many that are unintentionally funny. The use of voiceover is unnecessary, and the stylish expository montage at the mid-way point looks cheap and uninspired. The characters are fairly well written, with Momoa as the villainous Connor being appropriately evil, and Stephen McHattie as the kind-hearted farmer, John, giving the best performance.

Wolves is the type of film to check out if, and only if, you like the werewolf antics in the aforementioned television shows. While some may appreciate the abundant use of practical makeup effects, except during the transformation scenes, I found it hard to take the look of the werewolves seriously, especially when they wear jeans and a hoodie or leather biker gear. When it comes to these movies, this is more Twilight than The Howling, which makes it fine for what it is, I’d just prefer my werewolf movies with less bark and more bite.

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