Truth be told, this movie came to HBO a few weeks ago (Saturday, August 27, and earlier on HBO Max). But October is a great time of year to actually take on WOLF if you dare. It is a unique telling of a wolf in human clothing. WTF? It is not a werewolf movie exactly, but about a boy who thinks he is a wolf. And what makes it more unique is that he is surrounded by people who think they are animals also.
And yes, it is a real condition called zoanthropy or clinical lycanthropy. This movie examines the phenomenon. It is a psychological drama written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri as an international co-production of Ireland and Poland. it stars George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp THE IDOL), Paddy Considine (HOUSE OF THE DRAGON), Eileen Walsh, Fionn O’Shea, and Lola Petticrew. It had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2021 and a limited theatre release in the United States in December of that year, by Focus Features.
A boy named Jacob (MacKay), believing he is a wolf, is committed to a mental asylum. There he meets and befriends the other patients, who also believe themselves to be animals, including Cecille (Depp) also known as Wildcat. A war ensues with the Zookeeper, Dr. Mann (Considine) after the patients witness the brutal methods of treatment performed at the asylum.
So, is this movie a howl-at-the-moon experience or a tail-between-the-legs sort of affair? IndieWire says, “Despite some initial hurdles, the odd flirtation with humor, and some overwrought moments, MacKay sells Jacob utterly”, and The Los Angeles Times states, “[it] s slight, relying on mystery and metaphor to build suspense, but Biancheri’s sense of narrative adventure imbues this survivalist picture with more than uneasiness. She gives it tenderness.” But, RogerEbert.com noted, “But for as much writer/director Biancheri pumps copious ideas into this concept, the solemn tone and lack of thematic focus renders the overwrought outing underwhelming.”
Still, it seems like an interesting angle for a twisted lycanthropic story, but give me Lon Chaney Jr. any day. How about any of you? Is Wolf, now playing on HBO Max, on your Halloween watch list?