Overall Grade: (C+)
This film was a surprise, providing a compelling mystery with a solid cast and a unique take on a familiar premise.
When a odd and reclusive man is accused of killing a family while camping in the woods a defense attorney takes the seemingly win-less case. As her investigation continues into the actual events of the horrific night, and the more she learns about her mysterious client she soon begins to feel there is something much more sinister about him.
This movie saw limited release worldwide and even less in the states. Always looking for enjoyable films among the non-theater releases, I stumbled across this title and given the short synopsis, the possible ‘werewolf’ themed thriller/horror caught my eye.
The werewolf has not had its luck in recent years and, with a present day setting the possibilities could be plentiful. Set in France the film takes off quickly as a family is gruesomely murdered on a camping trip. What starts out as a found-footage film disappears for the most part as the plot of the film begins to weave its mystery. While labeled a horror film this story-line followed much more of a mystery/thriller theme as the case and evidence evolves.
A.J. Cook, most familiar to fans of the “Criminal Minds” was strong in the lead, delivering a believable performance, one similar to her role on the television show coincidentally enough. Without the script forcing her character to deliver a range of emotions her persona of the passionate defense attorney was likable and enjoyable.
She was also surrounded by a solid cast that only added to some already well written characters. Sahay and Quarterman were both nice additions to defense team and their personality differences led to some compelling moments. The dynamic of the defense team was well balanced and the addition of Sebastian Roché as the short tempered police inspector was a stark compliment to the otherwise somber pace of the story-line. He conveyed his role well with his expression filled lack of patience and short temper.
The character of Talan Gwynek played by Brian Scott O’Conner, in what appears to be his first performance was highly captivating. His lack of verbiage blended with his ominous and hulking demeanor pulled in 100% of the attention as you never know exactly what he will do next, and whether he is, or is not a danger to those around him. His unique appearance was excellent for the role and just watching him gave you the intended ‘werewolf’ vibe without actually alluding to it.
The second-act was a little on the slow side but it seemed that the instant you felt it was beginning to drag, the third-act kicks in and definitely pulls off some enjoyable cinematic moments. The script was well written and the perception of the case and how it was covered by the various news agencies was a nice addition to the script by providing a backdrop, eluding to the ‘werewolf’ possibility as well as shedding slight on the scope of the case. The news coverage also added to this entertaining film by giving additional glimpses of the horrific crime that spurred the cases existence.
Once the film begins wrap-up phase the action picked up quickly and delivered the full wolfed out action one would hope for with great camerawork that captured the violence of some of the gunfights as well as the unbelievable transformations and physical capabilities the character of Gwynek possesses when he changes. The camerawork gives you enough to be pleased and also doesn’t try too hard to force the wolf aspect on you which allow for you mind to still wonder who and what exactly the mystery of Gwynek’s background.
Overall, while this was not exactly what you could call a traditional horror film, it was easily a captivating and intriguing thriller with a fresh approach to a familiar premise. The ambition can be seen in the creativity taken in to telling this story, and with the unique elements this film brings, it is definitely worth a watch.