It’s no secret: Remakes are the “it” thing in Hollywood.
With uncertain economic times running rampant like our title character through the moors of England, the film industry needs to produce films they can almost guarantee will make money.
So it made perfect sense to remake the horror classic The Wolfman.
Going into this film, many a moviegoer must’ve felt like the film’s hero, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro), wondering cautiously and nervously through a thick fog of uncertainty. Remember, we’ve been burned by remakes in the past: Psycho, Planet Of The Apes, The Jackal. All remakes of classic films that were butchered through too loose or too literal script adaptations, the overuse of CGI and bad acting.
Luckily, The Wolfman sidesteps these modern-day trappings and delivers a tense and well-acted horror/thriller.
The lion-share of praise must be heaped onto Benicio del Toro. While his opening scenes were a bit muddled, del Toro’s subtle dominance of the screen makes the film work. He’s able to make Lawrence Talbot an extremely sympathetic character — you really feel for him. This is vital to the film. You’ve got to be able to care for someone who turns into a murderous werewolf. It’s also del Toro’s acting style, a methodical, throwback to the days of the black & white cinema, that makes him perfect for this role. Through his eyes alone you can feel the haunted pain and psychological torture Talbot goes through.
The effects work in the film is another major reason why this film works so well. The film’s commitment to using traditional make-up gives the remake a feel of authenticity and a less slick, synthetic CGI big-budget Hollywood feel. That may seem odd, but I think the closer it stays to the traditional Wolfman, the more it adds to the Gothic horror.
The film is no means a perfect, A+ thriller, it does have its faults, including a very “eh” performance from Anthony Hopkins, who is seemingly trying to recreate a Hannibal Letcher performance — and failing. Also, the climax scene, set in a fiery blaze in Talbot Hall, is a bit absurd as well.
Yet even with its faults, The Wolfman’s focus of giving the audience a thrillingly classical remake of one of the most celebrated horror films of all time, saves it. Strong performances (del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving), legit horror and tremendous effects work make this remake one of the better ones Hollywood has produced in some time.