We know how to pick winners, apparently?!?! Wolves just sounded like a cool concept when choosing what screeners to start with this year and now it looks like this Salem Horror Fest “Official Selection” is now a Jury Award winner to boot! So congrats on that! But is it deserving of the accolades? Spoiler Alert: That’d be a big hells yes from us at least!
You ever start a movie and within five minutes your mind immediately goes “Damn, this is gonna be GOOOOOOD!!!”??? Yeah, that’s Wolves in a nutshell. Written and directed by Danny Dunlop, who also serves as the director of photography here, Wolves is just gorgeous to behold from the opening shot through to the disturbing final moments. For Art Horror connoisseurs, there are shots here that certainly evoke the feel of Ti West with their expansiveness (Think Mia Goth swimming in the lake in X as a template) at times, the claustrophobia of David Lynch (The use of the dark and shadows especially brings to mind Lost Highway), and the isolationism of Jim Cummings’ The Wolf Of Snow Hollow. And don’t get us started on Sound Editing (Rachael Johnstone, Walter Riggi, Chase Mcleay), okay? There’s one scene early on involving a laptop and headphones and another later on in an open field involving a train passing by that are the stuff film nerds drool over. Integrate a score by Dunlop, Rachael Johnstone, Janice Kwan that delivers both whimsy and warning and you have a winning combination without a word even being uttered on screen.
But what’s it all about??? First off, “Inspired By True Events” is never a good thing, okay? Especially in the case of the “young social recluse” of this story who becomes obsessed with a series of animal mutilations which have been mysteriously happening over the course of 18 months with no end in sight. Mark Nocent gives a chilling performance as the nameless main character of Wolves (Listed as “Him” when the credits role) who navigates one awkward interaction after another with such a nuance from the instant viewers meet him working for a moving company and throughout his journey in the film. We see him living an isolated existence alone with pet turtle “Petey”, scrolling dating sites yet never putting himself out there, pawning goods stolen from his job, and pawning off stories from acquaintances as his own to make himself sound more endearing or interesting. He’s a husk trying to act the way he thinks the rest of us do. And it’s fascinating to watch. Especially when he becomes intrigued by a random news story on TV about the animal mutilations, begins his research, and visits the site of some of the incidents because ultimately he feels that this could be him and wants to understand why. Where will his journey lead him? Will he find the person responsible? More importantly, is he capable of such atrocities??? The only way to find out is to check out Wolves for yourself!
You can see the Jury Award winning “Official Selection” Wolves from Black Mandala Films TWICE over the course of the Salem Horror Fest with the East Coast Premiere happening on Friday, April 21st at 915PM and the second on Sunday, April 30th at 730PM. Both showings happen at Cinema Salem with details and more on the 2023 program here.