Directed by Michael Wadleigh [Other horror films: N/A]
This is a movie that I’ve been aware about for pretty much as long as I can remember. I recall, the few times this film has been brought up, being warned against calling this a werewolf film (which, given the title, is certainly a reasonable assumption), but aside from that, I went into this knowing very little.
Despite the almost two hour run-time, I feel like I’m leaving much the same way.
I’m not saying that Wolfen is a bad movie, but I will admit that I left quite underwhelmed, especially given, again, that the film was almost two hours. Now, I’ve not read the novel this film was based on (written by Whitley Strieber), but the story here, while starting out interesting, pretty quickly becomes more of a grind than anything else.
It was nice to see a younger Edward James Olmos, who I know mostly from his roles in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The West Wing, but I didn’t really get his character, and despite the explanation given, I also didn’t really get the Wolfen. Diane Venora played an okay character, but I have a hard time believing she’d be attracted to Albert Finney’s character (Finney, on a side-note, is an actor I know only from Big Fish, so it’s interesting to see him in a role like this). Finney himself gave a fine performance, but I just couldn’t get into the story, and that’s the main issue.
The setting for some of these scenes were top-notch, though. When Finney and Venora first go to that really horrible, decimated portion of New York City, it brings to mind vibes of Cabrini Green from Candyman (only this was more desolate and looked a hell of a lot worse). I lived in Gary, Indiana a bit as a child, but I’ve never seen anything as sad as that. Also, that bridge scene with Finney and Olmos was fantastic, and though there were no Wolfen in sight, I thought it was one of the tensest moments of the movie.
Alas, it all comes back to the story, which I just didn’t care for, and despite some quality scenes (such as the undiscussed yet still enjoyable sequence in which Finney and Gregory Hines are looking for the Wolfen in the ruins of derelict buildings), I just don’t think this movie was really worth the time. Perhaps if I read the novel and then came back to try the film out again, I’d get more from it, but as it stands, I can’t say Wolfen did much for me.