Cry Wolf

By Garth Franklin
Cry Wolf

Smarter and cleaner than expected, "Cry Wolf" plays much like 1998's "Urban Legend" - a psychological thriller masquerading as a teen slasher flick. Lacking that film's polish and suspense however, the end result is a rather routine film in this genre saved by a solid (albeit tired) concept, a half decent mystery element and some interesting story turns. Though the main mystery is pure 'Ten Little Indians' style tired antics with one too many twists for its own good, there's some fun red herrings along the way including a cathedral scene which leads to a few interesting revelations, and several effective if overplayed misdirections.

Casting is pretty solid too with Morris playing an amiable and charismatic lead, Lindy Booth as a vixenous romantic interest, and the utterly adorable Jared Padalecki doing well as a cocky asshole. Veteran actors are a mixed bag - Jon Bon Jovi's low-key turn as a philandering professor leaves a good impression, Anna Deveare Smith's cameo as a headmistress provides the film's only real laugh, whereas Gary Cole's brief appearance is remarkable only for his atrocious attempt at a British accent.

Like the script, the direction is brasher and richer than expected but also overdone. Jeff Wadlow's style is cinematic and makes what was obviously a very limited budget flick look bigger than expected. However he falls into the regular traps of the genre with MTV style editing and loud jumps in the music to remind us to be scared. Whilst his attempts to frighten us don't work, he handles the action scenes surprising well - infusing one long chase/multiple murder scene with more tension than the rest of the film put together.

Its a better than average film of this type, certainly nothing exceptional but all the little pieces ranging from the acting and production values through to the story and direction are slightly above what you'd expect. When it falls into horror film conventions, which it does often, its not worth bothering with. Yet one can't deny that something like this where a little thought has gone into it deserves more credit than the empty flashiness of studio films that cost ten times the amount yet contain only half the smarts. Still only good enough for a rental really, but on that level its decent value for money.