In 2010, Joe Johnston directed a remake of the 1941 horror classic The Wolf Man, written by Curt Siodmak. New writers Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self penned this remake and instead of updating to a more contemporary time, they set it in late nineteenth century England.
It can be said that The Wolf Man is to werewolves what Dracula is to vampires. So this remake is not just another horror film, it’s the Wolf Man. In that, there appears to be some big acting shoes to fill from Lon Chaney Jr’s performance in the 1941 classic. The role went to Benicio Del Toro, a fine actor in his own right, in this remake and did a fair job with the portrayal of Lawrence Talbot.
The story begins as Sir John Talbot’s (Anthony Hopkins) son has disappeared. Ben’s fiancé, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) writes to Ben’s brother, Lawrence, and pleas for him to return home to help find her fiancé. Upon arrival home, a body has been found. Lawrence sees his remains and then embarks on a hunt to find the beast responsible for his brother’s death. He is led to a gypsy camp and is soon attacked by a creature, which is half-man/half-wolf. A gypsy woman tends to his wounds, but pronounces Lawrence to be cursed. And, at the time of the next full moon, Lawrence transforms into the creature and goes on a bloody rampage.
Del Toro played the part of a tortured soul, caught between a normal life and a sort of living hell. He brought those characteristics to the character with a quiet desperation of needing to escape the hell in which he was living. The great Anthony Hopkins brought the right amount of caring and sentiment to the role as a man who has lost a son and wife. But he also had the mystery about him that were revealed in the climactic moments of the film. Blunt’s Gwen Conliffe had the spirit of the “damsel in distress,” but also a strong, courageous woman trying to uncover her fiancé’s disappearance.
What worked here in this film were the performances set against the time period and Danny Elfman’s music coupled with Shelly Jonson’s cinematography. It is settings like these that really bring more life into these horror stories with the vast countryside, foggy moors and a rocky waterfall. And although the performances were nothing extraordinary, they did have a sense of purpose and believability.
The CGI however, is what missed for me in the film. There’s something to be said for the old makeup special effects instead of the use of modern CGI. It does seem that CGI is used a lot in today’s filmmaking process, but sometime it can be overdone, and when not done right, it can appear sort of ridiculous. As with the case in this film, the effects made the werewolves appear more grotesque in nature and didn’t appear to fit in with the style of the film. This made the CGI a bit clumsy and out of place. But even with its flaws and average performances, the film did keep me entertained and hold my interest.