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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
dir Jeff Wadlow
scr Beau Bauman, Jeff Wadlow
with Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Gary Cole, Sandra McCoy, Kristy Wu, Jesse Janzen, Paul James, Ethan Cohn, Jane Beard, Erica Yates
release US 16.Sep.05,
05/US Rogue 1h30
You're it: Morris and Booth
Despite a witty and relatively clever premise, this teen slasher movie never manages to generate any real tension, relying far too heavily on horror cliches and hedging away from anything remotely grisly or sexy or anything, really.
Owen (Morris) is a British transfer student at a posh prep school, attracted to the seductive red-head Dodger (Booth), who introduces him to her posse of bored rich kids who sneak out of their dorms at night to play a game called Wolf, in which the best liar wins. Bored with that, Owen and his new pals create a hoax email inventing the legend of a serial killer called Wolf to explain the recent murder a young townie. Suddenly people are dropping like flies.
The main problem with this film is its general blandness. Nothing about the plot has any real spark, besides the gimmicky set-up. The cast is young and engaging (some of them even look like actual teens!), but they're bereft of any real personality. Morris struggles to find anything interesting about Owen, Booth's Dodger is just a superficial vamp, Padalecki is the harmless good-time boy, even Bon Jovi is strikingly dull as their journalism teacher, a role that fairly screams for a Patrick Swayze in Donnie Darko type of psycho cameo.
Besides the insipid tone, the script is jam packed with cornball dialog and scenes in which people do seriously stupid things, livened up only by several "look out, he's right behind you" moments. Director-cowriter Wadlow seems to be cynically crafting a scary movie from elements of other teen slasher flicks, while guaranteeing his backers a PG-13 rating. There's no heart to the film, and no teeth either.
Most of the jolts are due to loud, crashing noises that turn out to be red herrings. Cry wolf, indeed. In fact, the entire thing smells fishy, and as it progresses it's not very difficult to figure out what's happening and who's behind it all. The twists only briefly throw us off the scent. Basically this should have been played as a comedy--it's nutty enough to work as one.
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© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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