2005 - PG-13 - 90 Mins.
|Director: Jeff Wadlow|
|Producer: Beau Bauman|
|Written By: Jeff Wadlow, Beau Bauman|
|Starring: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Sandra McCoy, Kristy Wu |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: www.crywolfmovie.com/|
Short indie film director and Katie Couric’s nephew, Jeff Wadlow, scored every film student’s dream when he won the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Competition -- $1 million toward a full-length feature. That full-length feature is ‘Cry Wolf,’ an entertaining if unnecessarily complicated teen thriller with more than a mouthful of Mensa-level dialogue and intrigue.
As thrilling as it looks.
Reminiscent of the teen thriller dud ‘Gossip’ which starred James Marsden and Kate Hudson, and, to some degree, the ‘Skulls’ movies, ‘Cry Wolf’ is set in a posh New England private boarding school. Bright eyed British newcomer, Julian Morris (from the Royal Shakespeare Company, no less), stars as Owen, a new transfer student who is immediately attracted to the school bitch, Dodger, fetchingly portrayed by Lindy Booth (‘Dawn of the Dead’).
Dodger introduces Owen to her circle of friends (“spoiled, bored rich kids,” Owen scoffs, even though his own father is a captain of industry). These kids like to sneak off to the college chapel at midnight to play a convoluted game of lies and bluffs. How convoluted? On the DVD, there’s another version of the game with a different set of rules! No doubt test audiences tried to understand the rules – essential to the premise of the movie – only to get brain freeze.
But when a woman is found murdered on campus grounds, the kids decide to expand the game to the entire student body, with an elaborate spam e-mail that warns that a serial killer is on the loose. They invent a serial killer called “The Wolf” and describe how the next victims are about to be killed.
Have they set panic on campus? Terror in the library? The problem with a number of red herring thrillers – think ‘Urban Legend’ or ‘April Fools’ – is that the final reveal has to make-up for all the misdirection and lies. And in the case of ‘Cry Wolf,’ the set-up is elaborate and intricate with a so-so surprise ending that most people could have deduced in the first 15 minutes.
Another mortal flaw to this flick – teen thrillers typically have some skin and gratuitous sex. Nothing here – Wadlow and his co-writer, Beau Bauman, probably hoped that the film’s sometimes mind-numbingly complicated dialogue would dull the need to see some flesh. Though good actors, the leads – Morris and Booth – have precious little chemistry, which doesn’t help us believe that Booth is playing seductive and manipulative. In the DVD extras, the director rewrote the part of Owen when they cast Brit Morris. Morris’ slow, pensive acting style doesn’t mesh well with the other cast. Imagine Colin Firth thrown into a ‘Friday the 13th’ movie.
However, ‘Cry Wolf’ (not to be confused with the upcoming 'Wolf Creek') looks good – especially impressive given its $1 million budget. The school is suitable dark and scary, and the cinematography lifts the film from usual teen or indie fare. A novelty casting choice – Jon Bon Jovi – as the journalism professor, is jarring, but for a first time director testing the mainstream waters, ‘Cry Wolf’ isn’t a bad rental for a pre-teen Halloween night. Just make sure the pre-teens are all gifted students!