Fantasia International Film Festival 2014 runs July 17 to August 6. Follow all of our coverage here.
Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) is a bad cop. He’s not stealing evidence, abusing suspects’ rights or behaving like a character in a ‘70s-style police corruption tale – he’s just a shitty cop. Constantly late for work, frequently drunk and disinterested in actually doing his job, Lou is simply not a good policeman. At least not until a late-night disturbance call results in him being attacked and changed in a very hairy way.
He wakes up with a pentagram carved in his chest, razor-resistant stubble and an adverse reaction to the moon. What I’m saying is he’s been turned into a werewolf by a devilish cult for nefarious purposes! What those robe-wearing bastards couldn’t have predicted though is that lycanthropy plus copious amounts of alcohol equals one dedicated and highly effective police officer. (In their defense though no one saw that coming.) Now Lou is cleaning up Woodhaven one armed robber, drug dealer and cult member at a time.
WolfCop is the kind of idea that makes you pause for the briefest second before smiling, nodding your head and saying “Sure, why not?” But while there are moments and sequences throughout the film’s 79-minute run-time that fully embrace and live up to that premise there are many, many more that fall flat or feel rushed.
Lou comes to terms pretty quickly with his new condition thanks in part to his oddball bud Willie (Jonathan Cherry), an aficionado of all things weird, and after modifying his cop car as only a wolfcop would the two set off to tear crime a new a-hole. The town’s other cops – a constantly disgruntled police chief and an over-achiever fellow deputy – both see him as a loser with a badge, but Lou’s new, improved and hairier disposition may yet get him on the Officer of the Month plaque.
Director/writer Lowell Dean’s affection for genre and soft exploitation is clear, and his general instincts are solid. He takes the idea of melding a werewolf story with a cop mystery an extra step further by having Lou’s curse be caused by something other than an animal bite. Unfortunately though the follow-through on that idea is muddled and hurt by the limited number of characters at the plot’s disposal. Happily at least one of the characters stands out, and that’s Deputy Tina (Amy Matysio). Initially seen as a throwaway goody goody she quickly proves herself to be a highly entertaining ass-kicker.
This is horror/comedy with a heavier leaning on the latter than the former, and like WolfCop tagging some graffiti punks with his urine a few of the jokes and gags hit their mark. One bit involving a guy whose face is ripped off is compulsively funny, but too many of the jokes land with a thud that barely reaches the level of sophomoric or poorly written. One example? The coroner likes to eat while he’s working with dead bodies. Crazy!
It feels like a first draft with ideas and concepts sprinkled throughout only to be dropped in favor of the next thing. WolfCop cleaning up the streets is a visually fantastic idea, but instead of multiple scenes or even a fun montage we get a minimal amount of action before he’s forced to deal directly and solely with the core cult mystery. The practical gore effects follow a similar pattern – we see some great bits but then nothing all that memorable.
That said, the effects highlight (aside from the aforementioned faceless guy of course) is Lou’s transformation scenes. This is expected as the transformation scene is as integral to a werewolf flick as the money shot is to porn. The film goes the shedding (or werewolf within) route where Lou’s skin tears and falls apart to reveal the hairy creature beneath, and Emersen Ziffle’s effects work is wonderfully wet, fleshy and effective.
It’s perhaps too easy to say that WolfCop would have worked better as a short, but even at 79 minutes it feels like it’s loaded with filler and wasted opportunities. It bears similarity to the equally exploitative and Canadian Hobo With a Shotgun, but while that film committed to its premise and promise this one goes limp too soon and too often. The bright side though is now that Dean has set the groundwork he can hopefully follow up with a more robust sequel that focuses less on that goofy cult business and more on WolfCop emptying chambers of whoop-ass into bad guys.
The Upside: Practical effects work; some laughs; short run-time; Amy Matysio’s Tina is great; werewolf/human sex set to cheesy ballad
The Downside: Would work better as a short; not enough of WolfCop on duty; script; too many dull stretches
On the Side: Lowell Dean won a trailer contest which awarded him the $1 million budget to make this film
Related Topics: Fantasia Film Festival