Here’s a rule of thumb for watching B movies. If a B-movie opens with a scene at a strip club where we’re treated to a generous amount of anonymous female flesh, then you’re in trouble. Anonymous female flesh pedaling is the last desperate act of B-movie filmmakers who realize, much later on, that they haven’t given their core audience enough satisfaction. And let’s face it, no one watches a movie called “Darkwolf”, starring no one anyone has heard of, for the acting or quality of the screenwriting.
“Darkwolf” stars Samaire Armstrong as Josie, a waitress who discovers, in the course of one night, that the blood in her veins is of noble werewolf descent and that a werewolf is after her because it needs to mate with her. She’s protected by hunky detective Turley (Ryan Alosio), who takes over the protection job after a bag lady, Josie’s original protector, becomes wolf meat. We also learn that werewolf problems are so common that most major cities have a special unit to deal with the matter. Where’s a silver bullet when you need one?
I will give “Darkwolf” credit for having ambition, but unfortunately that’s also what dooms the film. Heck, the movie even attempts to explain the origins of the werewolf, and that whole “every city has a special werewolf unit” bit was very promising. But there’s no getting around the fact that “Darkwolf” is a movie that shows a lot of promise, but it’s just not very well executed. Shockingly, Samaire Armstrong and Ryan Alosio are actually very good actors, and the scenes where they’re alone are the most effective in the entire movie.
Which leaves the rest of the film to crumble like the poorly constructed house of cards that it is. “Darkwolf” once again proves my theory that if you’re a B-movie filmmaker and you want to make a movie with a lot of CGI and special effects, don’t. Simply put, bad CGI is worst than not having any CGI at all. Why draw undue attention to your lack of resources? Go with what you have and use heavy prosthetic makeup, but for God’s sake don’t scream, “We have no money!” with lousy CGI work.
If you want gore and sex, then “Darkwolf” delivers — somewhat. The gore is usually revealed afterwards, mostly because it helps to prevent having to actually show fake bodies being ripped apart by a supposed werewolf, which undoubtedly costs more money than the movie could afford. Friedman and company has elected to show the kill scenes with a shaky camera and extensive fast cuts, the favored technique for all B filmmakers with too much ambition and not enough sense. Even so, “Darkwolf” delivers enough blood and guts to satisfy.
The final climax features a massacre at a police station, although what major city’s police station only has a reception area, a hallway, and one inner office is just another mystery in this odd enterprise called “Darkwolf”. In the movie’s most ludicrous scene, two characters are trapped in a lift with the werewolf waiting for them below; but instead of immediately calling the cops, one character finally gets the bright idea to use the phone she had with her all along to call a friend. But get this. Instead of calling the friend’s cellphone (or better yet, call the cops!), the character calls the friend at someone else’s residence — a place that the character shouldn’t know the friend would be at in the first place!
As for the sex, we get one lengthy (not to mention artsy) lesbian encounter on the rooftop between Andrea Bogart and another woman. Unfortunately the scene is ruined by Friedman’s belief that genre lovers who watch this type of movie shouldn’t have a decent lesbian scene since he keeps cutting to another character getting his gut ripped out by the werewolf. Or, to be more precise, the film’s only potential guilty pleasure is ruined by a darkly lit scene where the camera shoots a fake werewolf’s head in nothing but close-ups.
It should be mention that “Darkwolf” steals liberally from James Cameron’s “Terminator”, including the premise of a woman being sought by a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. Whole chunks of dialogue and sequences from Cameron’s movie are transferred over to “Darkwolf” without so much as an effort to hide the theft. Of note is a sequence were Kane Hodder (“Friday the 13th”), sans Jason mask, attacks the aforementioned police station.
Even as a purely genre movie, “Darkwolf” is lacking. And even though it boasts two leads that have more acting chops than the movie rightly deserves, the film still falls flat on its overly ambitious face.
Richard Friedman (director) / Geoffrey Alan Holliday, Charles David Scholl (screenplay)
CAST: Samaire Armstrong …. Josie
Ryan Alosio …. Steve Turley
Andrea Bogart …. Stacey
Jaime Bergman …. McGowan
Alexis Cruz …. Miguel