That said, I dislike remakes of almost any sort. There is always a sense of wanting to improve upon the original and bring a modern feel to it. I have also disliked almost every horror film I’ve seen in the past few years. So you would think that I would dislike the remake of my favorite monster movie, especially since critics lambasted it. Well, wrong. I actually really liked the new Wolfman with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. It wasn’t absolutely great, but it was good. My only real complaint in the film was the excess use of violent gore. It simply was not required, especially in a piece so ripe with atmosphere and style.
For those who do not know the story, it is quite simple. In the late 1800s, Lawrence Talbot is an estranged son who left his father, brother, and ancestral estate in England to become an actor. He returns upon the news of his missing brother who ends up being found brutally murdered. Taking it upon himself to discover the cause of his brother’s death, Lawrence ventures out into the night under a full moon to questions some local gypsies. While out, a fierce wolf-like creature attacks and injures Lawrence who then shortly discovers the curse of the werewolf. Issues with family members and local mobs ensue as Lawrence struggles to fight the beast within himself.The cinematography in the Wolfman is superb and is very stylistic. The mood is perfectly gothic and the film plays homage to the original in it’s look and feel without seeming like an outright copy. Some liberties were taken with the plot especially concerning Lawrence’s relationship with his father, but I found the twist quite welcome if somewhat predictable. Most remakes butcher the plots, but this one only tweaks it some. Benicio Del Toro does a fine job portraying the tortured soul and looks enough like Lon Chaney Jr. that they could’ve been brothers. The pacing of the film is rather slow compared to most modern horror films and many critics complained of this. However, I found the pace comfortable since I was not looking for a roller coaster ride of scares. I was looking for atmosphere and a compelling retelling of the story. But having said that, there were a few scenes of suspense but I guess the film probably could’ve used a little more unseen-monster-in-the-fog creepiness.
Here is another plus for me: very few CG monster effects. CG is so overdone in movies today and I prefer practical effects with models and makeup. Rick Baker did a really good job updating the look of the Wolfman without it looking like spirit-gum and dog hair. Most modern-day werewolves are over-the-top, 12 foot tall, and look like they came right out of a video game. The Wolfman was portrayed much more down to earth yet still vicious. Overall, I enjoyed the film.
Objectionable content: As a Christian I am always concerned about any offensive content in the films I watch and the Wolfman did max out on gruesome violence. There were many scenes of severed body parts, disembowelments, and spraying blood. To me, this was far too excessive. When will movie makers remember that what you don’t see is much scarier than what you do? There was very little foul language to contend with (2 d-words, 2 h-words, and an improper use of God’s name). There was also very little in terms of sensuality. One dream sequence features the bare back of the heroine.
If you like gothic horror and are fans of the old Universal Monster movies and aren’t just looking for the latest roller coaster ride, then you might enjoy the Wolfman.