It will tear the scream from your throat.
Started October off with bats, so it's only fitting that it's followed up by wolves! There's a lot of werewolf flicks out there that range from good to bad as with pretty much anything that might as well be considered it's own sub genre. Heck, there's even parody funny type flicks out there. Enough rambling, let's just get to howl entertaining this furry flick of teeth and claws is.
Things in the city look pretty good. A rich mogul just went through the ground breaking ceremony to renovate the old slum distract into a nice pair of super-towers and nice dock and thought out to really liven the place up from it's currently dilapidated and run down status. While returning from the after party, the mogul and his wife (and security guard) detour down to the spot where the two were married - despite the restless natives (literally, a couple of Native Americans up on a bridge tossing booze bottles at them as they drive past). The mood is really about to get dampened when they arrive at their destination however, as we get some predator-vision from multiple angles right before the guard gives his attacker a hand. Unaware of the guards demise, the couple is up next on the doom train.
Local detectives get involved, with an old one getting placed back into active duty for this one. Pretty grisly murders these, but there really isn't any leads as to who murdered these folks, why they would take the moguls brain, or just how they managed to kill them. The morgue comes back with indications that whatever was used to kill the victims wasn't made of metal, which really raises the stakes on the mystery. The security firm decides to place a psychologist with the detective to help the case along and question their suspects. Although some claim to be behind the murders, between the psychologist and some fancy equipment it's all turned out to be some massive fibbing. It isn't long before another man is found murdered - this time just a homeless man - but this time some clues are starting to come up. Turns out some hairs are found at each scene, as well as some human parts.
Turns out the parts are diseased, and with some help from a local zoo fellow, they find out the hairs are actual wolf hairs. This leads the detective to think maybe some of the local Natives might have something to do with it, and when questioned is met with talk of shape shifting and some less-than-friendly banter. The detective decides to follow the man at night, and any thoughts of shape shifting killers is quickly dismissed when he discovers the man basically just on a drug-fueled kick acting like a wolf naked on the beach. When he returns to the office of the zoo worker the next day, they find him to be missing and the morgue tech and detective decide to go check out the old district at night to see if they can find the wolves that they suspect might be behind things.
So, plot can kind of falter as it goes on. It could just be that I missed something, or didn't hear something, but there are times when a character will just go nuts for no apparent reason - such as when the detective and psychologist are checking out a run down church and the detective suddenly decides that they need to leave immediately - to the extent of running up stairs, grabbing the psychologist by the arm, and then causing both of them to tumble down the stairs in his hurry to leave. Now, if he saw something terrifying I could understand it, but the entire scene is just set up with tension and strange noises that he dismisses as the wind that doesn't really explain the sudden degree of his fright. It gets them to the next scene, yes, but it feels like a scene was missing that would have explained it better.
Actors do a pretty alright job. Audio is mostly balanced, and you get the feeling of friendships between characters without it needing to be explicitly stated. There are a couple of scenes that lead to character interactions that feel unnecessary - such as the sudden romance scene between the detective and the psychologist, even though it feels a bit like the advanced nature of it came from left field when only a few scenes before the interest in being that "connected" was dismissed.
Effects work is alright, with the slight exception of the wolf-vision. It comes off feeling relatively like a poor budget version of the Predator's vision, and most of the time it's on screen the angles don't seem to really make sense. I get that the whole tale of the Wolfen as given states they are pretty much like super-amped up wolves that can hear blood pumping from below a street and all, but the sudden super-zoom capacity strikes me as strange. There's also a tendency of characters to not notice these creatures when they are right in front of them and the 'vision' is being stared at directly, which never really get's explained at all. I guess these advanced-wolves are just so advanced and godly that they can be invisible when they want, which would fit with some of the ending although that moment feels less like turning on cloak-mode and more like just fading away.
In the long run, it's not a terrible movie but I feel as though somehow a bunch of scenes are just plain missing. The fact that it's actually not a werewolf movie is a nice twist on it, pulling in some Native American themed story, as is the fact that it feels like more of a detective movie than it does a classical monster-movie - even if that story is kind of rushed. Acting is well enough, it's not overly super violent all considering (at least in comparison to some of the modern stuff out there), although there is a bit of old-fashioned nudity in there, so there's that to take into account. Won't be for everyone, has a handful of jump-scares and misdirects as far as it's horror element goes, but overall (at least in my mind) it isn't exactly a scary flick either. If the trailer sells you on it, then you may enjoy it enough for a rental, otherwise it's probably just not the movie for you.