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A group of six friends on a road trip stop off at an amusement park attraction named 'Dark Ride', unaware that a psychopath who brutally murdered two girls, has just escaped a mental institution and is seeking refuge there.
David Clayton Rogers
A hip, very erotic twist on the werewolf thriller, this atmospheric horror film adds a a wickedly sexy appetite to the bloodthirsty cravings of its monster. A vicious werewolf stalks the streets of Los Angeles. Between killings, its desperate goal is to mate with unsuspecting Josie, who is unaware of her special power attracting the beast. Forced to take over an investigation involving werewolves after his partner is killed, an LAPD Detective is led to the trail of this ravenously deadly hybrid werewolf. This unstoppable beast is in LA to find the next matriarch of the pure-bred werewolves so that it can mate with her before the night is over and continue the werewolf lineage. Josie, the young waitress becomes his target and the cop must find a way to rescue her and ultimately the entire human race which will become extinct if the mating occures. Written by
The opening titles took me by surprise. I knew Kane was in this film, but Tippi? The Tippi Hedren from Alfred Hitchcock's classic the Birds and underrated Marnie? Huh. Well, that is the highlight of the film, and the only pleasant surprise the film has up its sleeve.
What's kind of sad is the general premise of Dark Wolf could work well were it not written on the level of forth grade flunkies. The usage of color, lighting and camera work are above your typical bad-horror flick, and with a complete narrative overhaul and redistribution of the budget (cutting out the CG) it could go somewhere.
The two biggest weaknesses in this film are its CG usage and the low-level intelligence of the script. On the commentary track for Exorcist: Beginning, Renny Harlin observes that a horror film's effectiveness thrives upon the reality of its world a reality that CG shatters. Dark Wolf proves him correct watch the werewolf transformations in this movie. Transformation that look like a video game cut scene integrated into a live action film. Watch it and try not to laugh. Just try.
CG, done correctly, carries a pretty steep price tag, especially if the said scene involves a computer generated character. The reality of such effects rests within dozens upon dozens upon dozens of subtle details that the casual viewer cannot consciously identify, but even Joe-nobody off the street knows when its lacking. When the effect is artificial. I have a hard enough time suspending my disbelief for the likes of Star Wars II and Matrix: Reloaded whose team of CG artists outnumber Dark Wolf's cast and crew combined. Low budget horror shouldn't even screw with it.
The second biggest weakness, again, is the script's intelligence level. And yes, I'm aware of the genre's average film IQ. This film scored in the double digits on the specialized dumbed down horror SATs. If you marveled at the moron who drove miles out of his way to accidentally dig up and revive Jason in F13pt6, prepare to meet his mentor, grasshopper. "What's with the shiny guns?" asks a cop to an FBI agent, and I expected her to finish with "They're pretty!" Movies like this make me re-evaluate my expectations for horror, but I find myself asking "how can my expectations get any lower?" I absolutely loved a film as narratively retarded featuring shallow throwaway characters and that movie's name? Freddy Versus Jason. I'm not looking for strong character convictions here, but convince me your cop has at least heard of Miranda for Christ's sake. Convince me the photographer knows something about photography. Convince me that the werewolves are actually a threat a werewolf attacks and we can read a book then just plop the wolf up and carry it around like a bag of groceries? Sounds like a SNL skit.
Before too long, I found it more entertaining challenging the logic and questioning the events of the film than accepting the film's reality. For example, how do you lose the one relic that will ultimately explain everything and save the world? How does someone stand there and watch the heroine escape and lose her when his sole purpose in life is to locate her? Why did the wolf look eerily like an ape? Why is a naked Kane Hodder laughably unintimidating as he demands "Where is she?" Why does he go to wolf form before every kill? and why is he mysteriously naked for one scene in the middle of the film? I know better than asking these questions, but I couldn't help myself. Dark Wolf was askingnay, beggingfor it.
Winding down, the film shows Kane Hodder on a morgue table, and that's where I switched off the film. Anyone who's seen even one horror movie knows exactly what will happen, and as I ejected the DVD and returned it to its case I quietly noted how much of Dark Wolf I could have skipped and still know precisely the events that take place. In fact, the only thing I would have missed was the below average stupidity and the six minute MTVesque photo-shoot of some girls made up as werewolves.
On the plus side the film does have Tippi Hedren. It also has better than average camera work, a very colorful (though frequently inappropriate) atmosphere, and a few cool effects like the flash of red to wolf's perspective . . . before it became redundant . . . which was before it became obnoxious. Overall, though, the only way I can recommend Dark Wolf is to demonstrate why low budget horror should stay away from computer generated imagery.
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