While The Wolfman remake sticks to the original concept, the scare factor doesn’t measure up.
Mist twists through vast woods inhabited by gaunt gypsies and fangs shred human flesh, but in the end, the evening news is scarier than this remake of the 1941 werewolf thriller, Wolfman.
The original version, which left audiences trembling, did for the werewolf what Dracula did for vampires. But now, aliens and deadly pathological diseases tend to provide a more terrifying storyline. As do cleverly scripted psychological thrillers.
Perhaps because this film deliberately avoided extreme use of special effects and kept to the simple story, it will be hard-pressed to get even the most notorious movie-squealers to flinch.
The horror scenes, which involve a lot of blood and the odd strewn organ, depict an imaginary large monster doing to a human what a hungry dog does to a fresh bone – on impulse, not out of revenge.
The story remains the same – a British man (Del Toro) receives notice of his brother’s death, so travels home to find out what killed him. He is attacked by that very same monster, only he survives. The new moon becomes his living hell.
The only obvious difference in the plot is that this time the film is set in the highly evocative 1890s rather than the 1930s.
This gives licence to a stunning set – a poorly-lit village and lonely homestead in wind-battered northern England, and a London just emerged from the industrial revolution.
Add in the juicy prosthetics and a stellar cast and the film should do the story justice. It does, but it gives nothing more.
Del Toro plays a sombre and convincingly anguished man-turned-werewolf, while Hopkins as his stony father, Blunt as his brother’s crestfallen lover and Weaving, who plays Inspector Abberline (modelled on a real Scotland Yard inspector of the period) also give their characters more than is dictated by the simple script.
Despite all it has going for it the film fails to invoke the same fear that the same story did 60 years ago, but then again, it doesn’t feel like it set out to.
Director: Joe Johnstone
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving
Running Time: 102 minutes
Rating: R16 (contains violence and horror scenes)