Review: WOLFCOP, The Hairy But Tangled Canadian Horror Comedy
So now that western Canada has had its fill of Lowell Dean's horror comedy Wolfcop (if you think you missed it do not worry for it has been carried over) those of us in eastern Canada find ourselves in the rare position of catching up. Wolfcop opens in Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Halifax this Friday, June 13.
By now you should know the story of Wolfcop. Lou is a police officer in a blue collar town called Woodhaven. He is not the brightest badge on the payroll. He often wakes up from a drunken stupor. He is rarely seen without his hip flask. The police chief and fellow officer Tina barely put up with him as it is. During a night shift Lou investigates a disturbance at the edge of town and falls victim to an occult ritual. As he tries to put together the fragments of his memory of that night he also discovers that this ritual has changed him into a werewolf. With the unsolicited help of his friend Willie, Lou must embrace this change. He also aims to discover who or what was behind that ritual that night and what they have to do with the upcoming eclipse.
There were hints at a playfulness in Dean's direction at the beginning of the film when we first meet Lou's friend Willie. It was more likely a nod and a wink to a director's influence because afterwards he keeps the camera steady from there on in. From that point on Dean's admiration with drone cameras is more evident than anything; using more than his share of sweeping landscape and city shots. The thing is, a movie like Wolfcop pretty much gives you license to be as creative and crazy as you want to be. Here we are, a movie about a cop who is becoming a werewolf, and it is pretty much begging to run with it. But it does not. We've thrown off the shackles of convention yet failed to dream big.
Emerson Ziffle's practical creature effects are top shelf. They will delight old school horror fans and should find favor with werewolf enthusiasts. Lou's first transformation starts where no werewolf transformation should but the result is hilarious. As the werewolf, Lou slashes and claws his way through a number of bad guys and the gore goes for comedic effect over horror. A werewolf movie makes it or breaks it on the strength of the creature effects and I do not think a single werewolf fan will be disappointed with the efforts here.
Fans of horror comedies should find enough of both in Wolfcop to feel like they are not leaving the cinema empty handed. My hangup is that Wolfcop takes so long to find its purpose that all we are left with is a couple of shakedowns before the climax. It is a mix of horror and comedy that does not take off right away but builds momentum to a satisfying conclusion. I like to think that because Wolfcop is a low-budget production it meant that Dean had to put some of his crazier ideas on the shelf. Now that a sequel has been approved hopefully Dean can be more ambitious with his next screenplay; open up that can of crazy as he explores more werewolf tropes to fiddle with. There is room to really let his werewolf's hair out, and that is promising.
One other thing. You will never listen to Gowan's Moonlight Desires the same way ever again. I swear on it.