Cry_Wolf is all about
gossip and lying, so it's probably only fitting that while it may be trying
to pass itself as a slasher film when it is really nothing of the kind.
It is more of a psychological thriller. The film takes an
old-fashioned storyline and tries to jazz it up with new millennium
developments like cell phones and instant messaging. (Hence the
awkward underscore in the film's title...)
It takes place in a rich
prep school which is populated by spoiled kids with way too much time
on their hands and very little in the way of adult supervision. (We
really only see an English teacher, a librarian, the principal and the
janitor.) Also, in the town nearby, a local girl has been brutally
chased down and murdered.
New to the school is Owen
(Julian Morris), a really good but misunderstood son of an executive.
Owen has been expelled from several previous schools. (He claims that
the last school he got tossed from was when he was covering for a girl, but
that doesn't really explain the line of schools that came before it.)
On his first day, he meets a
beautiful girl who was evilly named Dodger (Lindy Booth) by her
Dickens-loving English teacher mom (who apparently didn't realize that the
Artful Dodger was a nickname, not an actual name). That alone would be
enough to turn her into a raving lunatic, but Dodger appears to be nice,
sweet, innocent and oh, so manipulative.
Gilmore Girls and
Supernatural) is a good-natured jock who introduces Owen to his friends
and helps him try to win over the artful Dodger. These friends are a
series of high school types, we have the punk (Jesse Janzen), the slut
(Sandra McCoy), the nerd (Ethan Cohn), the sarcastic possible lesbian
(Kristy Wu) and the token black (Paul James.)Owen's roommate, Tom
(Jared Padalecki of
The group weekly goes to a
deserted old chapel and plays a very convaluted "lying game" with each other
which makes little sense to Owen (or, for that matter, the audience), but it
appears that he is a natural at it. When Owen points out that is was
easy to stump them because the others were too familiar with their friends, the plan is hatched for the group of them to play the game on the rest
of the school.
The plot is to start a
rumor, via email, that the townie girl who was murdered was the victim of a
serial killer. They give the mythical killer a name (The Wolf), a
disguise (camouflage jacket and neon orange ski cap), a complicated MO
(shooting a local girl first before going on a knifing spree of the whole
campus) and a long, made-up history.
The story spreads like
wildfire, convincing all the people not just in the school but in the
neighboring town of the existence of the Wolf. Then, suddenly,
mysterious IMs come claiming to be the killer. A man in camouflage and
the mask is seen around campus. People start to disappear.
Throughout the film it is
played on two levels. The characters (and the audience) are left
wondering if the real killer has read the email and decided to take revenge
or if this is all just an extreme version of the lying game. And,
either way, who is doing it?
For a thriller, Cry_Wolf
is surprisingly gore-free. I don't know for sure if this was to
keep the tide of uncertainty flowing, if it was an economic choice (this
first-time film was made on the cheap) or if it is just to keep the PG-13
rating. (Though even the so-called "unrated" DVD version seems rather
chaste.) However, perhaps the scariest things in this film are the
idea of Jon Bon Jovi teaching English to impressionable teenaged girls and
the normally reliable Gary Cole's odd approximation of a British accent as
our hero's distant father.
Cry_Wolf has an
interesting plot and some genuine suspense, but your enjoyment of the film
depends on whether or not you see the twists and turns coming. Most
people will see at least many of them down the pike, however the
final twist is genuinely surprising -- you sort of suspect something like it
is happening, but the level of the deception hits you in a rush.
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Posted: December 23, 2005.