When a young woman is found dead on campus, a group of teenage friends decide to further scare their classmates by playing a game. They spread a rumour around online that a serial killer named ‘The Wolf’ committed the murder and is planning to strike again. The group describe his next victims based on people they know and also describe how they will be killed. The trouble is that the victims do start to turn up dead. It seems that someone has taken the fictional killer to the next level and now the group don’t know where the lies end and the truth begins. Who will be next?
Scream has a lot to answer for. If I’ve said it once before, I’ll say it a million times again in the future when writing these reviews. The humble slasher film never had the sophistication or intelligence to create and weave together an elaborate story full of twists and turns. It used to be one unstoppable killer who wasn’t very hard to identify, a bunch of teenagers, lots of sharp instruments and plenty of gore and nudity. There was little effort made regarding characterisation, plot and even scaring people for that matter.
That was until Wes Craven turned up and decided to make slasher films ‘smart’ by making the characters aware of what is going on by constantly referencing other films – the film universe within a film universe approach. It also made audiences second guess everything that happens in these films because they now expect twists and turns. They expect some level of intelligence in their slasher films nowadays. They can’t just accept that there’s a killer on the loose. They now have to know motives, past relationships with other characters and they want lots of swerves so that you don’t know who is killing until the final reel. Please just keep it simple!
Cry Wolf attempts the ultimate swerve and one that very few horror films have ever pulled off with any success. Is what we are seeing on the screen really happening or is it part of the game? April Fool’s Day back in the 80s managed to pull off the ‘it’s all a big trick’ thing with relative success but that was before audiences became clued up as to the tricks of the slasher trade. Now the many twists, turns and double turns just leave audiences shrugging their shoulders and saying “I wish I was watching Scream again.” Some films like Cry Wolf try way too hard to confuse the audience so much that they can’t pull apart the script. I guess that’s a good thing because you’ll be tearing this baby to shreds if you could be bothered to stop and piece it all together. But because the film isn’t very good, you’ll not waste your time.
It also seems well out of place with its fellow slasher brethren. A lot of modern slashers have evolved from the annoying 90s post-Scream phase concerned with twists and have just gone back to making outright splatter films like in the 80s. Give me the dumb splatter over the self-aware tripe any day! At least Scream peppered it’s intelligence with some legitimately tense stalking moments and a nice sense of dread towards the main characters. Here the filmmakers fall victim to the MTV school of music video producing and eliminate any tension that they may have created with jerky editing and quick cuts to and from the action. This is if you do actually manage to wait it out for the deaths to come (save for the opening kill, you’ll be waiting for what seems like an eternity for ‘The Wolf’ to show up and start doing his thing). I’m sorry for continually referencing Scream but it’s clear what Cry Wolf desperately wants to be.
If there is a major positive, it’s the smoking hot Lindy Booth. She’s hot as hell with her fiery red hair and wearing a schoolgirl outfit doesn’t do her character any harm at all. She has a great presence in the film and her seductive and sexy manners would send any guy weak at the knees. It’s a pity that the objection of her affection is about as bland as the plot and there is no one else for her to bounce off. The rest of the cast seem to have stumbled from one of those teen US sitcoms like Dawson’s Creek or The OC. They’re devoid of acting talent and simply fill the gaps of the stereotypical characters based on their aesthetically-pleasing looks. The token ‘star’ name on show is singer Jon Bon Jovi who appears as one of the college tutors. I guess they needed an older statesman for them to throw in there for red herring purposes. Bon Jovi is actually alright in his role and holds his own well but then again, he’s not up against much.
Cry Wolf unfortunately cries wolf just too many times for you to even care anymore. There’s trying to be ‘smart’ and there’s this film being ‘obnoxious nerd smart’ where said nerd rubs your face in not knowing how to level your character up in World of Warcraft before not letting you forget it every time you see him. A few nice touches here and there are nothing to save Cry Wolf from the slasher graveyard.