“Del Toro, del lobo.”

When trailers for THE WOLFMAN started surfacing the buzz was that this would be a great film or a lousy film. There would be no in between. It would either be so stunning and powerful that nothing could compare or so over the top and campy that it would become laughable. But there was a third direction that many never anticipated. How about a horror film that focused on imagery and art direction so that what you have is a visual masterpiece that just happens to be about a cursed family who gets hairy and murderous when the moon is full?

Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his family’s estate after the brutal death of his brother. While helping to investigate he is bitten by a werewolf and as legend holds true, becomes one himself. As he learns more about his past from his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins) it only makes matters worse. The townspeople storm the gates with torches and pitchforks as Scotland yard tries to end this rampage. For those who would scoff at the moments in this film that are unbelievable you need to remember that the movie is about a werewolf! It is implausible from the ground up. It is that mindset that will help you get out of the way of fact and enjoy the stunning visuals and film work.

Horror fans who were expecting an advanced, CGI filled action flick are going to feel cheated while those who love the classic films of this genre will be in homage heaven. Though lacking in story line and action this movie more than makes up for it in style. There are long moments of moonlit English countryside and silhouetted images. Every scene is beautifully staged. From the lighting to the props to the framing. I attribute this to the resume of director Joe Johnston whose claim to fame is art director for such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It is this old school knowledge that worked perfect in making a movie in the vain of the classic tellings of early Hollywood; whether in a stereotypical asylum with archaic machines or a large English castle. Even the transformation into the wolf is more in the style of the 70s and 80s films.

The Wolfman is rated R for bloody horror violence and gore. When The Wolfman attacks it is with a vengeance and yes you see it in detail. Though that is true the film doesn’t go overboard with killings and the shots of the blood and gore never linger or become the point of the scene. There is no bad language and the pacing and mannerisms are very gentlemanly if you will. This is not a modernized shock fest but instead a very nice rendition of a classic horror character. I give it 3.75 out of five Coors Lights. Again not a lot of action or dialogue and the delivery is spotty. But a truly visual masterpiece that is worth seeing. So says Matt Mungle

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