Horror and comedy can be a difficult balance, with countless parodies and pastiches continuing to fall by the wayside every time Halloween rolls around. However, when it’s done right, this sub-genre can have absolutely astounding results. Since Shaun Of The Dead, we’d argue that no-one’s quite perfected the formula, which made us unavoidably sceptical about WolfCop. But how does this latest addition to the aeons of horror comedy history hold up?
Surprisingly well, to an extent. At certain points WolfCop is an absolute joy for fans of both gore and guffaws, with old school practical effects and a pun-laden script combining winningly for an enjoyable sub-80 minute romp.
The plot here is relatively simple – Leo Fafard’s alcoholic cop Lou gets embroiled in a supernatural plot within his otherwise unremarkable home town in Canada, at which point comedy ensues. Upon following-up on a reported crime in a suspiciously spooky forest, Lou stumbles across some of your run-of-the-mill occult experimentation and winds up being the latest in a historic string of townspeople to end up transformed into big grizzly werewolves. Combining his abilities to drink a lot, half-arsedly fight crime and transform into a giant murderous wolf, Lou eventually decides it’s time to clean up his town with a bloody – and often hilarious – quest for justice.
The biggest influence here is quite clearly An American Werewolf In London, and that’s no bad thing. The attempts to recreate the horror-classic-in-an-unlikely-location laughs, highly disturbing transformation scenes and even a pun-filled soundtrack generally fly quite well – offering much nostalgia for fans of 1980s kitsch.
Perhaps the biggest positive here is the unearthing of lead actor Leo Fafard – as an everyman protagonist with nothing to live for and a helluva drinking problem, Fafard really delivers the goods. He portrays the comic hopelessness of Lou with a remarkably straight performance, letting the disbelief of the supporting cast bounce off him into big laugh territory. When he undergoes a heavy make-up transition into the film’s eponymous Wolf Cop, he shifts wonderfully into an exaggerated caricature of a horror icon, proving his versatility and enhancing the enjoyment factor of the film greatly.
The direction from Lowell Dean frames this strong central turn very well, particularly during WolfCop’s final third where he displays a flair for pacey action. Likewise, the effects team earn huge respect here, with their commitment to practical techniques showcasing a great deal of skill in a forgotten art, and therein adding a gleefully naff sheen to the film.
However, for all our good will about the lead actor, the direction and the visuals of the film, WolfCop is far from a perfect film. It is, sadly, unlikely to make it onto many lists of classic horror comedies in the near future due to some sizeable avoidable mistakes.
The supporting cast is one of the biggest let-downs, with a parade of clichés replacing what needed to be a strong backing group. So much of comedy relies on interplay between actors, but sadly no-one other than Fafard really brings their A-game here. Amy Matysio’s bartender Tina is a predictably untrustworthy vixen, Jonathan Cherry’s Willie is an unfunny rehash of the hapless best friend role perfected by Nick Frost, and – worst of all – Jesse Moss’s integral villain role (named only Gang Leader in the credits) falls very flat indeed. The baby-faced actor seems entirely miscast as a hardened mob ring-leader, and no amount of painted-on tattoos can really remedy that.
The script, too, has too many moments where jokes simply don’t hit their marks. The alcoholism of Lou is played for laughs at the onset, which is forgivable to start with. By the end though, we end up at a stage where instead of the logical trajectory of having now-heroic Lou kicking the habit, his vice instead becomes an integral facet of his quest. It seems like an odd scripting decision, and as a result the sheer amount of booze jokes becomes very tiresome.
Let it not be said that we didn’t find a lot to enjoy during WolfCop though. As already stressed, the film is visually brilliant and both its director and its star come out of it very well. We wouldn’t be surprised to see them both landing some bigger jobs off the back of this. The film also boasts a few twists, as well as the weirdest sex scene we’ve seen in quite some time…
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