Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Violence, Terror, Disturbing Images, Language, Sexuality and a brief Drug Reference
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Written by: Jeff Wadlow & Beau Bauman
Starring: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Kristy Wu, Jon Bon Jovi, Sandra McCoy, Paul James & Gary Cole
CRY_WOLF is a movie that really suffered from crappy marketing. The trailers and commercials made this out to be a gritty slasher flick when in reality it was a teen-based thriller. That doesn’t necessarily state that the film is good, but it’s an okay little flick that might surprise some folks. If you were to take THE SKULLS and cross it with GOSSIP, then you’d likely have a combination that looks a lot like CRY_WOLF. For the record, this film is higher up in quality than either of those aforementioned thrillers, though that’s not exactly high praise. WOLF should satisfy viewers who go in expecting a teeny-bopper mystery as opposed to a gory slasher.
Owen Matthews has just arrived at Westlake Academy and already made a group of friends. This gang of rebels, led by the lovely Dodger, enjoy meeting at an on-campus chapel and playing games of lies. The goals of these games are to turn your friends against each other and remain undetected while doing so. When a student winds up murdered on campus, Owen and his group of hooligans decide to exploit the tragedy by creating a rumor that will scare the whole school. They claim that this murder was the latest in a series of killings by an infamous masked maniac known as the Wolf. Because gossip spreads fast and teenagers are generally stupid, their lie gets all across campus…including to the killer who may have set his sights on Owen and his friends as next potential victims.
First things first, the characters here are pretty annoying to say the least. These are stereotypical, snobby rich kids who get off on tormenting and manipulating others. Owen is played by Julian Morris who’s particularly wooden here. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast members are stellar either. It’s worth noting that a young Jared Padelecki shows up as the one-dimensional jock in the teenage victims, er…I mean, group. The most fleshed-out and complex character of the entire film is Dodger, played by Lindy Booth. As far as adult characters go, Jon Bon Jovi is convincing as a teacher and Gary Cole shows up for approximately two minutes of screen time as Owen’s neglectful father. This isn’t exactly a likable cast of characters, but it’s mildly entertaining to watch them play mind games with each other and be horrible people.
Besides most of the characters being jerks, the film also suffers from a forced soundtrack and certain stylistic choices. Quick flashy snippets of murder scenes are shown and interspersed throughout various scenes as opposed to actually showing the killings (though that would probably land this an R and it was edited specifically for a PG-13 rating). Stylistic choices aside, CRY_WOLF actually has a pretty interesting plot. There are twists and turns that really work, one of which is pretty ingenious the more you think about it. That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t get convoluted in areas, because it does seem convenient that the story plays out in the exact way that it does. However, there’s a guilty pleasure quality to this film too. It clearly cannot be described as good and is far from great, but it does go out of its way to do something different. It’s definitely not the preconceived slasher flick that most expected it to be and that pissed off a lot of people. Instead, the movie takes an odd route. Whether that works for you or not, depends on what kind of movie you’re up for.
CRY_WOLF has it’s share of dumb decisions and problems. There are clichés abounding. All of the characters border on scummy and annoying. The style can be downright irritating throughout. However, the plot is constantly interesting in the twists and turns (whether it’s a convoluted moment or a scene that actually works well). You have to give credit where credit is due. CRY_WOLF tried something different. Though it didn’t necessarily succeed at that. It’s okay for a quick guilty pleasure viewing.