Studio: Image Entertainment
Director: Lowell Dean
Writer: Lowell Dean
Producer: Hugh Patterson, Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, Danielle Masters
Stars: Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Sarah Lind, Corinne Conley, Jesse Moss, Jonathan Cherry, Aidan Devine
An alcoholic small town deputy finds himself at the center of an occult conspiracy after becoming a werewolf.
Despite praise-packed reviews and a grassroots groundswell of positive buzz, I put a “Wolfcop” viewing on the backburner because a horror-humor hybrid about a toothy werewolf toting a peace officer’s pistol seemed too over-the-top to suit my personal tastes. Upon finally seeing the film, I found my tempered disappointment ironically came from “Wolfcop” remaining on a leash and never becoming as unabashedly outrageous as its setup grants every right to expect.
A solar eclipse is three days away as the sleepy small town of Woodhaven prepares for its annual “Drink n’ Shoot” festival, a “what could go wrong?” country hick version of Oktoberfest that combines blunderbusses with booze. Speaking of booze, alcoholic burnout Lou Garou (loup-garou is a French flavor of werewolf for those lax on international lycanthrope lore) is busy gearing up for his third hangover of the day when another shift as a sheriff’s deputy gets in the way of an afternoon bender.
Lou would prefer to toss back more whiskey and flirt with the buxom bartender, but a squirrelly good ol’ boy thinks occult activity is afoot in the forest and the sheriff tasks Lou to take a peek. In the dark between some trees, Lou spies a strung-up mayoral candidate and a pack of robed cultists ready to put Lou next to the helpless politician. Lou wakes the next morning with a foggy recollection of what happened, not unusual for a drunk with self-esteem issues, except the rapidly regenerating hair and bloody pentagram carved into his chest suggests the previous night was no ordinary blackout.
As expected, Lou begins gradually morphing into a werewolf. What no one sees coming, including Lou, is that the newfound fur on his flesh reignites Lou’s protect and serve urges to become a beastly vigilante who just happens to hold a badge. Off Lou goes in search of the truth behind his transformation, blowing up meth labs and taking down donut shop gunmen along the way with street justice panache befitting a Wolfcop driving a Wolfmobile.
A conservative horror-comedy connoisseur can appreciate writer/director Lowell Dean’s comedic restraint never letting “Wolfcop” fall out of hand. Dean stays in control, taking his movie as seriously as it deserves even when the movie itself may not. His centering keeps the film more clever than campy, though often with such an avoidance of irreverence or extremes that “Wolfcop” coasts into tame territory.
Many gags are deliberately understated. A cracked windshield and jiggling luau girl on his dashboard fill in details about Lou’s personality that dialogue doesn’t. Throwaway zooms and background jokes like graffiti tags on the sheriff’s station and a running gag about Lou’s partner outpacing his poor job performance avoid attention and balance the tone. Such consistent subtlety works in places, but only enough to pull a puff of air from the nostrils when “Wolfcop” is a concept far riper for bellowed belly bursting.
Upon first eyeing lead actor Leo Fafard, you’ll wonder why it took this long for someone to cast him as a werewolf’s human half. Fafard looks the part in more ways than one, mannerisms and expressions in addition to appearance, although the script keeps him so quiet before the first full moon that he doesn’t have an opportunity to fully bloom his charisma. “Wolfcop” turns a small corner at act three, when a slightly sillier sensibility takes hold as Lou and the movie more tightly embrace the absurdity of a werewolf deputy’s law enforcement antics and cross-species sexcapades. Yet it’s almost a revelation of how much more entertaining “Wolfcop” can be when its temperature is set to full boil instead of slight simmer.
Satisfying the horror side of the genre conbination are some knockout practical effects blending gruesome and goofy with suitably hip flair. Transformation scenes are a werewolf film’s caramel core, and “Wolfcop” takes a corked bat swing for the bleachers with a memorable metamorphosis starting at Lou’s penis and ending with audience eyes still glued to the screen.
Good-natured, good-humored, and well-intentioned, “Wolfcop” still spins its wheels by pumping blood leisurely when it rightfully screams to gush straight out of the vein. “Wolfcop” is the film equivalent of a Ferrari driving under the speed limit. Its curves are appealing and its colors still hot, but why load up on so much sleek style if you’re not going to open it up on the highway?
Like Lou Garou’s human half, “Wolfcop” is rough around the edges, begrudgingly likable, but ultimately mildly mannered with more soft bark than deep bite. And just like Lou’s fuzzy form, you can tell that underneath the skin somewhere lurks a bigger, bolder, furrier monster itching and clawing to really let loose.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 60