Monday, March 21, 2005

The Company of Wolves

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: I'm not quite sure this movie HAS much of a plot-line, but I can at least say the following--the book is based on the short story by Angela Carter and is directed by Neil Jordan. It is moreso a fairy tale than a horror movie in a lot of ways, revolving around a variety of stories about "the big bad wolf" or "the wolf in man's clothing." Angela Lansbury plays the grandmother of a "Little Red Riding Hood" and most of the films focuses on the stories she tells her granddaughter about the wolves in the forest and straying off the path.

Scariness factor: Moreso creepy and weird in the way that Grimm fairy tales and the like usually are. I am having a hard time truly considering this a horror movie (though it has certain aspects that might peg it as such), so I'd be hard-pressed to say it was truly "scary."

Originality: If one is going to look at it AS a horror movie, and in comparison to other werewolf movies out there, this is probably its strong-point. There are many layers of meaning in this movie--the werewolf is not just the source of scares. He represents man, sexuality, loss of innocence, etc. in a way that is much more complicated than most werewolf movies, and I'm sure in part to the feminist reworking of Angela Carter.

Other High Points: This movie has some FANTASTIC transformation scenes as "werewolf" movies go. And many of them. So werewolf-fans will not be disappointed. One of the best transformation scenes consists of the mouth of a man widening to ridiculous proportions as the wolf and his snout emerge through it--why no one has ever though of this way of transforming man into wolf before is beyond me, but it is particularly apropos given the repeated idea that "some wolves you can easily recognize because they are hairy on the outside; but the worst wolves of all are those that you can't perceive, the ones who are hairy on the INSIDE."

Also, the fairy tale qualities of this movie are really visually interesting--there are many unsettling dream sequences, and reality shifts back and forth in a way that is successfully unsettling.

Other Complaints: The movie has the feel of a Masterpiece Theater movie--in ways I can't quite pinpoint, it feels a bit "made-for-television" which I didn't particularly care for, especially since I normally really quite dig Neil Jordan's directing and cinematographic choices. Also, it has a terribly heavy-handed and annoying 1980's-esque score and (to accompany it) a very 1980's-esque penchant for slow-motion scenes which get to be a little excessive at times. Also, it seemed to have terrible sound-quality, though it could just be my copy. The highs were way too high and the lows way too low.

Grade: B/B-



At 8:48 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I would like to point out that 'Company of Wolves' also follows the traditions of the original Werewolf myth with much more attention than other werewolf movies (who get their mythology from the 'Wolf Man'). Even their retelling of 'Little Red Riding Hood' is appropriate, since the story is, among many other things, a werewolf story.

I will argue that it is a horror movie, just as much as Dracula is a horror movie. It's a retelling (in this case, multiple retellings) of a classic monster story. Sure, there are lessons of morality in each vignette, so in that respect, it does take on some of the qualities of a fairy tale, but it's presented in the context of "handed-down by generations" tales of monsters, which are the oldest kind of horror stories. So, I would argue that it's level of horror is actually older and deeper than that of a modern film.

I will say that I agree with Lauren on the soundtrack, which *is* awfully dated and takes away from the feel of the whole rest of the film.

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is almost like a meta-horror movie: it brings to the surface the aspect of horror that gets its energy from "the return of the repressed" - frightening and potentially uncontrollable emotions within the self, usually sexual. This movie does all but spell out the attraction-repulsion of horror with its tension/release dynamic.

Also, the guy who played the werewolf in the final vignette was hawt. Very. At least that's how I remember it, having seen it at age 14-ish.


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