Starring: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Gary Cole
Director: Jeff Wadlow
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
It would be easy to pass off “Cry_Wolf,” a film about a murderer stalking kids at a posh boarding school, as just another tired slasher film based on what we’ve seen in trailers and television ads. The ads feature screaming teenagers running from a knife-wielding killer in an orange ski mask and a camouflage jacket. Been there done that, right? Sort of. Although “Cry_Wolf” does have said teenagers running and screaming from said ski-masked killer, the film manages to bring something a little different to the audience. And what the film brings is actually what it doesn’t bring, namely gratuitous gore.
Where your typical slasher film seems poised to see how effectively it can gross out its audience, “Cry_Wolf” can be described as almost a thinking man’s slasher film, if there can be such a thing. Keeping the blood and guts to a minimum, director Jeff Wadlow, to his credit, prefers to scare his audience the old-fashioned way, by keeping his audience on its toes. “Cry_Wolf” is filled with twists and turns that keep you guessing for the most part, although to a somewhat ridiculous degree. There is such a thing as too many twists if just so at the end of the film the director can wink at you and pitifully boast, “Betchya ya didn’t see that coming,” to his audience; as if anyone actually cared.
The two lead actors do have charisma, however. Julian Murphy and the ever-so-fetching Lindy Booth each provide cogent performances, and together they manage some actual chemistry on-screen. As far as young Hollywood goes, these two seem to have some actual talent; talent that in this film could have easily been wasted if not for the decent script by Beau Bauman and Jeff Wadlow that allows the two to delve into their characters, albeit superficially. Why, for instance, is the lead character even British?
The rest of the cast is no one you ever heard of (or want to for that matter), with one noticeable exception. You might have noticed the name Jon Bon Jovi in the credits for this film. Before you start snickering you should know that the guy can act. As some may recall he turned in a solid performance in the submarine thriller “U-571” a few years ago. Here, unfortunately, he phones in a performance as a teacher boinking one of his students. In “U-571” he was barely recognizable with a cropped haircut and the overall darkness of that film. In “Cry_Wolf,” with his long locks intact, he is merely a distraction. You could almost hear the gears of teenagers’ minds grinding as they tried to remember what he sings or who he even is for that matter.
“Cry_Wolf,” unlike any other film of this genre it seems, interestingly makes use of technology used by its intended audience. You’ll notice the underscore in the title of the film, which subtly hints at the e-mail and instant messaging communications that are central to the movie’s plot. Grasping on the somewhat irrational fears of lurking murderers and pedophiles patrolling the Internet for naïve victims, “Cry_Wolf” captures on the fear and the rush of anonymous online chat, and uses them to create an overall air of suspense throughout the film. The result is a film that, despite suffering from some traditional clichés, manages to frighten and entertain its audience to a satisfying degree.
The unrated DVD of “Cry_Wolf” features a full length audio commentary track with director Jeff Ludlow and producer Beau Bauman, four deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary, and two short films by the filmmakers. Also included on the single-disc release are casting tapes for most of the young actor roles and an on-set tour with star Julian Morris. Still, despite the decent selection of bonus material, the DVD is definitely now worth picking up.