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WolfCop
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by Jay Seaver

"A big better than you might expect from a werewolf cop movie."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2014 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Contrary to any expectations one might have from buying a ticket based upon the name alone, this movie is not "'RoboCop', but he's a werewolf". So, get over that and hope that someone else takes that particular idea and runs with it. There, now you can appreciate "WolfCop" as an enjoyable bit of supernatural action-comedy - I don't think it's actually trying hard enough to scare anybody to call it horror.

In this one, a crappy cop by the name of Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) in a small Canadian town is investigating a report out in the woods when... Well, he's not quite sure, but he wakes up with a pentagram carved on his chest and more trouble getting a close shave than usual, but one gets the impression that strange stuff has happened to him while drinking before. This actually inspires him to do a little investigation, though, even if he does spend more time talking to conspiracy theorist/taxidermist Willie (Jonathan Cherry) and busty bartender Jessica (Sarah Lind) than his by-the-book partner Tina (Amy Matysio). It soon becomes clear what's going on, and the only question is whether the full moon will leave Lou as more wolf... or cop!

Director Lowell Dean and co-writer Bannister Bergen are playing this with their tongue firmly in their cheek, clear from the first time you see an advertisement for an establishment called "Liquor Donuts", and they don't ever do much to mitigate this. There are plentiful jokes about stuff small towns where there isn't much to do other than drink and hunt (the Drink & Shoot is, in fact, the place's signature event), although it doesn't spend all of its time mocking the locals. Most of the jokes land well, and when they don't, the next one is not far off. There's a winning self-awareness of the story's absurdity and the production's limited budget that stops just short of breaking the fourth wall. Heck, the main character is actually named "Lou Garou", and is played by an appropriately hairy guy.

And despite not really being terribly experienced as a lead actor, Leo Fafard holds the movie down pretty well as its lazy, alcoholic hero. His introduction nails the squandered life aspect of the character by letting just enough interest in pleasing out from under the sluggish petulance of this sort of drunk that it's not a huge leap for him to step up later. That's when he starts selling all the expected werewolf gags in a casual, roughly two-this surprised way, and giving the wolf a personality of its own even through a bunch of makeup and mostly grunted speech. He plays well against everyone who has a scene with him, with Jonathan Cherry nearly as memorable as Willie, a run-with-it sidekick who gets a lot of laughs on his own even as he makes Lou look proactive. Sarah Lind vamps it up as the bartender while Aidan Devine bellows well as the obligatory yelling police captain. All these characters played big make it a bit hard for Amy Matysio to establish the more sensible Tina, but she does gain a foothold eventually.

Fafard spends enough time wolfed-out to keep the audience from feeling short-changed, and it's a goofy but convincing enough makeup job: Emerson Ziffle gives the wolf cop a face that still gives Fafard room to act while still looking reasonably lupine. The effects team pulls off a decent transformation, too, including some enjoyably gross skin-shedding. The rest of the gore is, at the very least, crowd-pleasing, and Dean is not stingy in throwing it out there.

The filmmakers are enthusiastic in other areas, too; while the story isn't complicated, there's a certain amount of effort put into the mythology and the movie has a surprise or two more than you might expect from most comedies which use these tropes. It makes "WolfCop" a cut above a lot of low-budget genre movies that might coast after coming up with the high concept, a kick on its own rather than a reminder of other things.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=27453&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/10/14 13:50:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

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USA
  N/A
  DVD: 13-Jan-2015

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A
  DVD: 13-Jan-2015


Directed by
  Lowell Dean

Written by
  Lowell Dean

Cast
  Leo Fafard
  Amy Matysio
  Jonathan Cherry
  Sarah Lind



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