Arrow in the Head reviews the new release Wolf Garden, which has been described as “An American Werewolf in London meets Vertigo”
PLOT: William and Chantelle’s vacation in the countryside goes terribly wrong, leaving Chantelle missing and William hiding in the wilderness, fearing the next full moon.
REVIEW: Chances are that any genre fan who decides to check out the horror movie Wolf Garden (watch it HERE) is going to, given the title, expect the film to fit into a certain sub-genre – and since distributor Gravitas Ventures is marketing the film as “An American Werewolf in London meets Vertigo”, I suppose it’s safe to confirm that Wolf Garden is a werewolf movie. Of sorts. It just might be the most economical werewolf movie ever made. Even more so than that Howling movie that primarily seemed like a documentary about a Pioneertown honky-tonk. Don’t go into this one hoping to see much in the way of cool special effects, but do go into it aware that it’s a slow burn psychological thriller that may test your patience with its pace and its non-linear structure.
Writer/director Wayne David also stars in Wolf Garden as William, a man who went on a vacation to the countryside with his girlfriend Chantelle (Sian Altman), and something clearly went terribly wrong while they were out in the wilderness. While the story jumps back and forth between past, present, nightmares, and moments where William and Chantelle question whether or not they’re properly experiencing reality (therefore it’s difficult to say whether it’s another flashback or another nightmare), we can decipher that William is now hiding out by himself. Chantelle isn’t around anymore. But for some reason, William keeps chopping up meat and carrying it out to a shed in the woods.
Some viewers might be able to get into playing the mind game of the scattered narrative and enjoy the ride to the ending that we all expect from the beginning, but I found Wolf Garden to be very difficult to get into. Not only was the constant shifting in and out of the past, present, and reality annoying, but I also couldn’t bring myself to care about William or Chantelle at all. They may have a true, deep love for each other, but from the outside they are not interesting characters and their interactions were just another part of the film’s overall drab dullness.
Although Wolf Garden is largely a one-man show, focusing on William with the occasional appearance by Chantelle, she isn’t the only character he interacts with over the course of the film. From time to time, William will also talk to Grant Masters as a mysterious character known as The Visitor, who was someone William thought was dead before he shows up for his first visit. This was an element of the story that made me think of An American Werewolf in London even before I saw the “An American Werewolf in London meets Vertigo” marketing line. The Visitor’s conversations with William are similar to the chats the werewolf in London would have with the ghosts of victims, and Masters has a captivating screen presence.
David did a fine job of carrying the film on his shoulders, and Altman also did well with the material she was given to work with. There’s just not enough going on in the movie to sustain the 89 minute running time and make it a satisfying viewing experience. Fans of the slow burn may get something out of it, but for me the tone, structure, and pace were off-putting and patience-challenging. I couldn’t wait for this movie to reach its conclusion.
If you would like to give Wolf Garden a chance, you can do so today. Gravitas Ventures has made it available on digital and VOD as of February 28th. You can watch it on Amazon at THIS LINK.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/wolf-garden-review/