Movie: The Wolfman
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt
Direction: Joe Johnston
If it’s a bright full moon night, it must be werewolves. Nearly 70 years after Lon Chaney Jr. terrrorised Welsh villagers — and legions of moviegoers — The Wolfman has been resurrected. Concentrating on creating a foreboding atmosphere of horror over the cheap thrills of creature-effects, director Johnston draws us into the powerful story of a man confronted with his animal instincts.
Circa 1891, a Shakespearian thespian (Del Toro, fulfilling his dream of portraying the character originated by Chaney Jr.), returns to his family estate to probe his younger brother’s murder. As bad turns to worse, the bite of a werewolf causes the ‘prodigal son’ to contract deadly lupine properties.
The suspense ratchets up along with the abundant gore. The actor strives to get rid of his curse, only to end up battling the beast in a pyromaniac but unconvincing climax.
Photographed in predominantly grey-green hues, the film also boasts a haunting background music score, besides Rick Baker’s superb make-up design.
On the downside, a subplot involving a romance with the deceased brother’s fiancée (Emily Blunt) is perfunctory. Also, the flashbacks to the siblings’ childhood are heavy-handed.
As the tormented titular character, Benicio Del Toro is alternately solemn and scary.
Anthony Hopkins as his estranged father and Hugo Weaving as a Scotland Yard inspector belt out fairly efficient performances.
Old-timer Geraldine Chaplin fetches up in the welcome cameo of a gypsy fortune-teller. Addicts of the horror genre need to seek out this remake of The Wolfman.