d. Joe Johnston / USA-UK / 2010 / 102 mins
Viewed at: Screen 3 @ Cinema City (Norwich, UK)
Following a theme that has cropped up in recent posts – where I may or may not have reveled in my own cynicism – it struck me, after watching The Wolfman, that perhaps I’m just a contrarian. You see, for all its critical and popular slating, its sheer goofiness and its misplaced lunge at box-office glory, I actually quite enjoyed this cinematic abomination.
And whilst I complained about the condescending approach to verbal humour in Funny People, I actually quite enjoyed the complete and utter stupidity of some of the dialogue in The Wolfman. As well as the purely preposterous anachronism of many conversations, the steady flow of one-liners threw up some absolute – ahem – howlers.
This retelling of the lupine classic takes advantage of its production circumstances by providing plenty of bloody gore, unhindered by Will Hays, censorship and restricted effects budgets. And with much of this gore being as ridiculous as the dialogue, the film manages to provide some serious ‘badness’, from the unintentional (the woeful encounter between the Del Toro and Blunt characters in which they skim stones on the lake) to the – I hope – blatantly intentional (a ‘pile of intestines’ which is quite clearly just a pile of uncooked pork sausages).
But thankfully, all this rubbish dialogue and cartoonish gore (not to mention some terribly inconsistent accents) only adds to the overall 1940s Universal horror feel. Indeed, the greatest virtue of this film, without a doubt, is its unashamedly stubborn manner of sticking to B-movie tropes.
They may not have appeared in the originals, but severed heads, disembowelment and the like have become B-movie staples in the intervening years, and they provide some excellent moments of viscerality in The Wolfman. In so many ways, I found the sheer bloodymindedness of this film strangely admirable.
Most of the critics – if not all – who have expressed an extreme distaste for this film, seem to have missed the major virtue at the heart of both The Wolfman and its 1940s antecedents: the pure, unashamed, schlocky entertainment value. I mean, what did these people expect from a contemporary film in which a lupine man cavorts around in torn clothes?