Eight or so years ago, writer/director David Hayter tried to do for lycanthropy what the Twilight series did for vampires in this week’s flick, Wolves.
Our troubled romantic lead, a senior high school quarterback named Cayden Slaughter (Lucas Till) starts punching through this smack-talking opponent’s helmet after a late hit during a game, so he gets in trouble.
Then he goes to make out with his girlfriend in his car. (Do high schoolers even drive to a secluded area to make out? It’s such a threadbare gimmick and screenwriters STILL use it to get teens isolated in peril — even in a contemporary, well, 2014, flick?) Just so happens, he gets too excited, grows fangs and claws and makes his girlfriend’s back look like it got run through a DocuShredder 9000. So she gets out of the Dodge and he gets in trouble.
Then he blanks out and wakes up in his house with blood all over the place and all over his clothes. So not only is his high school romance in jeopardy, but his parents are going to be disappointed about him ruining the $4,000 white leather living room furniture set, except they’re not because their corpses are all torn up in the other room. He’s not in trouble with them very much anymore.
But guess what? His girlfriend actually did something logical after he non-consensually made her back look like a large tray of chicken fettuccine in red sauce catered from Olive Garden. She WENT TO THE COPS!!! So the police pull up, he freaks out when he sees the cruiser and he spontaneously becomes a parkour expert, does the whole Bionic Woman off-the-balcony stunt (without sound effects) and now Narrator Cayden returns to talk about now he’s now living out the whole opening credits scene from the 1970s Incredible Hulk TV series with David Banner going town to town (yes, that was the main character’s first name in the show with Bill Bixby. You can look it up.).
Finally after going berserk on a couple of bikers in a truck stop parking lot who were playing pinball with a woman’s face, their fists and a tanker truck, he stumbles into a bar, doesn’t get carded and learns he’s “afflicted” from Wild Joe (John Piper-Ferguson), a one-eyed werewolf guy in a bar, who inspires Cayden to don a black leather jacket and re-enact a sequence from Easy Rider except instead of real scenery we get a cheesy CGI motorcycle journey to this place called Lupine Falls.
He liked what happened at the first bar so much, he goes to another dang bar where John (aka the great Stephen McHattie from the all-time classic Pontypool, among others) and the worst on-screen Conan the Barbarian to date (Jason Momoa) are also hanging out and so Cayden orders a Heineken and proceeds to have a conversation with Angel (Merritt Patterson) the bartender/owner in which both actors take like five seconds between words to add some John Wayne laconic gravitas to their encounter.
Then he starts working on John’s farm and can pull out boulders with his bare hands until the worst on-screen Conan the Barbarian to date, who wears a pinky ring, smokes a pipe and leads a crew of redneck militia werewolves, shows up and menaces them.
The rest of it is about werewolf bloodlines, werewolf relationships, a feud between the mountaintop werewolves and the city werewolves and Momoa trying to procreate with one of the two pure werewolfettes left in the city.
Also, Stephen McHattie makes land mines out of cow crap to blow up the bad werewolves and almost everybody takes 12 hours between lines, even internally. One guy gets ripped limb from limb, and that’s a perfect transition to:
Best way to fore(paw) play: A woodsy werewolf frolic precedes a clothes-shredding hay loft makeout session.
Best remedy for a wounded werewolf: Cayden also has to make out with his girlfriend on his hospital bed and then run out toward the woods in order to heal after taking a tumble (not from the hay loft).
Best relatable comparison for creature design: The werewolves look like a certain tall furry alien creature from a well-known space opera franchise now owned by Disney — with ears.
Best reason to choose a mate: Clara, John’s wife, played by Janet-Laine Green: “I’m not part of the pack, you see. I just like men with chest hair.”
Best production choice to seem folksy: All the werewolf leaders smoke pipes. Makes em seem relatable. Like hobbits.
Best reaction to the “I am your father” moment: “What? You’re saying is that asshole up in the hills is my father?”
Best person in the cast to do a long flipping information dump: Stephen McHattie as John, of course, who also is given lots of close-ups where he looks worried.
Best verbal gymnastics to avoid saying “cow crap”: When John says “Grade A recycled bovine detritus, and it’s extremely good for the soil.” I told you he was in charge of the information dump.
Best lucha libre moves: Angel after she turns into a werewolf.
One star includes a half-star deduction because of no garbonzas, not even from a werewolf (at least Howling 2 had the integrity to give us that).
Unless you want to watch “One Tree Werewolf Meets the Hatfields and McCoys,” I hesitate to tell you to check it out, but I would be remiss by not saying that Wolves is available to stream on Amazon Prime and on Redbox as well as on physical media.