Evidently, werewolves can be as snobby as anyone. Sure, some humans are turned through bites, but hereditary lycanthropes look down their snouts at them. You will find a large concentration of purebred wolves in Lupine Ridge. It might look like hill country, but it is the Philadelphia Main Line for werewolves. It is there that Cayden Richards will go searching for answers in David Hayter’s “Wolves.”
Richards (Lucas Till) never knew he was adopted until he heard it on the TV news. Having discovered his parents ripped apart wolf-style after an inconvenient blackout, it is now too late for him to ask them any questions.
Resigned to live as a fugitive from justice, Richards simply roams the highways, trying to keep his inner beast in check. However, a chance encounter with Wild Joe, a fellow purebred werewolf outcast, points him toward Lupine Ridge.
As soon as he blows into town, he seems to rub Connor (Jason Momoa), the town’s alpha-male-alpha-wolf, the wrong way. However, a wiry old farmer by the name of John Tollerman offers to take him on as a farmhand, no questions asked. Even the television reports about Richards’s previous misadventures do not seem to throw the good-hearted Tollerman.
Nor does it scare off Angelina Timmons, who ought to be too young to tend the bar she inherited if she is roughly as old as Richards, the high school senior dropout. Of course, the authorities never come to Lupine Ridge, because aside from a few humans like Mr. Tollerman, they are all werewolves.
In terms of tone, “Wolves” aims to be something like the lycanthropic equivalent of “The Lost Boys,” with hit-or-miss results. On the plus side, Momoa’s Connor makes a terrific hairy heavy, and Stephen McHattie has the perfect Lance Henriksen-esque weather-beaten gravitas for Tollerman. Both come into “Wolves” with genre cred that they only further burnish.
The problem is that Till is horribly dull and awkwardly lightweight as Richards. It is hard to see him as a high school quarterback—drama club president, maybe. Hayter had to notice how much verve Momoa and McHattie brought to the table (which they then proceeded to chew) and how slight Till’s presence is in contrast.
Granted, dull horror movie heroes are a tradition dating back to mild David Manners in the original “Dracula.” However, in this case, the film depends on Richards’s fierceness, but it isn’t happening.
Despite the weak vanilla lead, there is a lot of fun stuff in “Wolves.” The werewolf makeup is not bad, and the southern rock soundtrack nicely amplifies Momoa’s super-bad attitude.
Unfortunately, too many of Till’s scenes feel like something out of “Twilight” instead of a werewolf movie with hair on its chest. If only there were less of him and more McHattie, but it is still kind of entertaining in a guilty pleasure sort of way.
Recommended for fans of Momoa and McHattie, “Wolves” opens Nov. 14 in New York at the AMC Empire.
Director: David Hayter
Starring: Jason Momoa, Merritt Patterson, Lucas Till
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Release date: Nov. 14
2.5 stars out of 5
Joe Bendel writes about independent film and lives in New York. To read his most recent articles, please visit www.jbspins.blogspot.com