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The Wolfman

3

Joe Johnston salutes the Universal horrors of yore...

In 1941, Lon Chaney Jr donned fur and fangs to play the iconic Wolf Man. Jump forward 70-odd years and you’ll find Oscar-winner Benicio Del Toro doing the same. Why? “These are the movies that I grew up watching,” he says.

From the period setting to Rick Baker’s classical creature make-up, everything about this Wolfman screams homage. And after The Mummy director Stephen Sommers’ increasingly overblown monster rehashes, it’s an admirable return to oldschool B-moviemaking. For a while, at least…

Del Toro is Lawrence Talbot, an American actor who journeys back to his ancestral English home after the murder of his brother. On the hunt for the killer, Larry gets a mauling from a werewolf and he’s soon dealing with his own demon as well as the family ones.

Cue plenty of spilled guts and severed limbs, as the village of Blackmoor is torn apart (literally) by Talbot’s lupine alter ego. Joe Johnston’s reboot is surprisingly visceral and picture perfect, but the movie’s silver bullet is its pacing.

The first hour builds tension and character, as a brooding Benicio courts his brother’s grieving missus (Emily Blunt) and clashes with his sinister pop (Anthony Hopkins). But the film soon descends into a flurry of disjointed scenes and action setpieces, rushing to the inevitable, CG-assisted final showdown.

It’s a shame – especially as the disc’s ‘Extended Cut’ offers more of the restrained, gothic horror of the front section. It still slobbers all over Van Helsing, mind…
 

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