This afternoon, Universal released a trailer for its new golden-age-throwback The Wolf Man. This was a pretty smart move, considering most people had forgotten about this since we first pulled faces at Emily Blunt and motioned for her to get out while she could.
Luckily, things look better than feared. Benicio del Toro returns to the family home to bury his brother, only to be bitten by the werewolf of local legend. (What are the chances?) His father (Anthony Hopkins) plays a verse or two of I Told You So in D Minor, and his brother’s widow starts to get a little too wrapped up in Benicio’s welfare when the neighbors come by with their pitchforks and their icebaths and their electroshock therapy and their rock-and-roll music.
(If you think the atmosphere looks familiar, it probably is: half the screenwriting team wrote Sleepy Hollow, and the same outsider vs. suspicious populace dynamic is front-and-center here.)
Director Joe Johnston, coasting on goodwill from having made The Rocketeer and hoping nobody remembers Jurassic Park III or Hidalgo, seems to be playing it straight, mixing family drama with the beastly gore. So far, it works—though when you have a ringer cast like this, the scenery-chewing takes care of itself—and the dead-serious approach gives the gory transformation effects an air of real terror. Maybe The Wolf Man will be the horror movie to bring audiences back from torture porn.
What do you think? A horror classic done well, or New Moon for people old enough to drink?
Genevieve Valentine is an incurable movie and TV nerd whose fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Federations, and more. Her first novel is forthcoming from Prime Books. Her appetite for bad movies is insatiable, a tragedy she tracks on her blog.