Sunday, 16 July 2006

Cry_Wolf (2005) DVD

This movie wouldn't be so bad if the directors knew what they were doing. Hell, Jon Bon Jovi probably knew more than the directors

One of Aesop’s Fables is called The Boy Who Cried Wolf. You know, the one about a bored shepherd boy who gets a kick out of screaming "Wolf!" and laughing when his villagers come to his rescue. Then one day he is punished when a real wolf appears and the villagers ignore his cries. In the darker version of the fable, the boy is eaten by the wolf. Then, there is the party game sometimes called "Wolf and sheep", in which the entire flock accuse each other, create paranoid conspiracies, and target their enemies in order to unmask the wolf among the sheep.

In Cry_Wolf, this game is played by a really bored bunch of rich brats in a boarding school, who, when a local student is killed in the woods, decide to create a rumour about a serial killer in a red ski mask – creatively named The Wolf – and in effect play the game with the entire school population. Somewhere along the line, though, it turns out that there really is a serial killer called The Wolf, but can the clique convince its members, their schoolmates, and the school administration that this isn’t one of their hoaxes? It’s like The Boy Who Cried Wolf turned into a teen slasher flick.

Unfortunately for us, Cry_Wolf is the first ever feature film for Wadlow and Bauman. This means that the identity of the serial killer is more than apparent by the first third of the movie. The basic failing of the director-producer team – and an immense one at that – is their failure to see through any of their plot ideas. Why do they bother to spend 5 minutes of screen time on "clever" Scream-lite dialogue when there is no intention to develop a modern self-referential, self-deconstructing teen horror flick parody and homage? Why do they bother making a slasher movie when the killings only begin in the final third of the movie, and there is no proper buildup of suspense or horror in the first two-thirds?

Okay, there is a scene involving multiple Wolf-lookalikes in a Halloween party, but the expected chase scene is not only predictable, but sorely lacking in any thrill, and forces audiences to think of how scary that scene was, when Wes Craven did it years ago in Scream. Why oh why do they bother introducing the very convoluted game of Wolf and Sheep if they’re not going to make emotional manipulation, conspiracies and mutual suspicion the key motif of the movie? Or even make the bunch of bored, rich boarding school brats slightly more conniving, given their expertise at the game? Enquiring minds want to know – but the directors cannot deliver.

Let me say that if you hadn’t fallen asleep during this movie (I was fighting off the Z-monster for the sake of our readers!), and if you paid any attention to the movie (instead of cursing at its poor execution), you would’ve easily identified the serial killer as well as the plot twist, all within the 20 minute mark of the movie. Even viewers who aren’t choosey about the cleverness of slasher flicks will be appalled at the fundamental failure of the directors to convince them that the murder scenes and chase scenes are actually scary.

Poor buildup, no atmosphere, no payoff: Cry Wolf tries to be smart but is in fact pedestrian, twice-warmed over fare that fails as a slasher flick, a psychological thriller, or even as a murder mystery. The only silver lining in the cloud is in fact the good lighting and cinematography in some sets, and a performance by Jon Bon Jovi (as a journalism prof!?) that is actually more impressive than the acting-school efforts of the main cast. Oh, the horror!

First published at incinemas on 13 July 2006

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