Wolf Manor

Written by: Joel Ferrari & Pete Wild

Directed by: Dominic Brunt

Distributed by: Lightbulb Film Distribution

Runtime: 85 minutes (1 hour 25 minutes)

Certificate: 15 (UK)

Budget: £250,000 (estimated)

Intro:

Those who have read through my blog, or followed me on Twitter know that I love Werewolf movies of all budgets and plots! So when I saw Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt on Loose Women talking about having directed a new Werewolf film I was instantly invested.

A few short days later (Monday 9th January), Wolf Manor was released on DVD and Digital, and I ordered my copy from Amazon, excited to watch and write my first review of 2023.

Plot:

Whilst filming on the set of a low-budget vampire movie in an abandoned manor, the cast and crew soon run into a rather gruesome situation after a run-in with a very real and very deadly werewolf!

The only question is; Who is going to make it out of the manor alive?

Story:

Some of the best werewolf films occur in a single, middle-of-nowhere location, with no signal and seemingly no escape. This film takes inspiration from those tropes and puts the characters in that exact situation.

It’s a fun plot that involves a cast of fed-up characters working on a film set and instead of trying to go overboard with a whole pack of wolves like many films seem to do, this one sticks to a classic one versus many, as there is only one werewolf on the prowl it seems.

However…the ending has something of a surprise for viewers but that’s for you to find out on your own.

Effects:

Let’s talk werewolf! One thing I have noticed with British werewolf films is that they have a tendency to go for the long ears look, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something I’ve noticed. There is also a similar pattern of having a long-hair covered body, often made with something like Yak hair, with only the face, abs, and chest being bare, most likely so that when a character eventually inflicts a wound on the beast, either a bullet or a stab wound, then it will be clearly visible for the audience to see. Having read up on some interviews with the cast and crew, I found out that it was in fact Yak’s hair that was used for the design, and the sculpting of the costume was done by Shaune Harrison, who has worked on much larger sets such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Game of Thrones. His work on the costume allowed the werewolf to make expressions such as sneering without it affecting the prosthetics, which in turn, meant that the crew could film close-up shots that really added character to the beast, which is something a lot of low-budget movies cannot provide.

One thing some people never quite get over with British films is the budget. British films will never have a Hollywood budget, but their use of practical effects is forever one of the greatest charms that make the movies fantastic. In a horror film, especially of the werewolf sub-genre variety, audiences expect blood, guts, and lost limbs, all of which Wolf Manor provides, with some absolutely brilliant practical effects, from gruesomely torn flesh to internal organs all over the place, and at least one decapitation.

The special effects department on this film should be applauded for their work on making this film bloody fantastic if you pardon the pun. As Stephen Mapes’ character in the film, Peter, says “Blood and gore will always sell”.

Morgan Rees-Davies getting fitted into the Werewolf Costume

Cast and Characters:

The cast for this film really brings the charm to it. James Fleet as the fictional legendary actor Oliver Lawrence really brings out a laugh with his character’s shifting personality as the elder on set who is for the most part a sweet old man with a drinking problem. Stephen Mapes provides the unlikeable character of a producer named Peter, who treats the rest of the group poorly. Former Allstars member, Thaila Zucchi also makes an appearance as the kind-hearted but firm Assistant Director who does her best to get the remaining cast members to safety as the situation escalates.

Whilst the film has many great characters and brilliant performances from the cast portraying said characters, I would be here all night with this review, so the last one I will mention will be the short but sweet cameo appearance from the director of the film, Dominic Brunt, who many of you may know best as the loveable Paddy from Emmerdale. He provides a humorous appearance as a rather expensive taxi driver, who gives the first sense of true danger in the film as he claims he can take the passengers no further up the road, leaving them to hop out of the vehicle in front of the Blue Moon Inn.

Dominic Brunt appearing in Wolf Manor

Ode to the classics:

When watching Wolf Manor you will quickly find that there are references to classic werewolf flicks from the get-go. The flick being most predominantly referenced is An American Werewolf in London, with the film being outright on the nose about it, from the moment the two reporters see the pub sign, which in itself is a reference to the very same film in a way. The Blue Moon inn is a clear reference to the song Blue Moon which is used multiple times in An American Werewolf in London, but when they see the sign, Damien Matthews’ character Simeon states “…surprised he didn’t have it called Slaughtered Lamb” which is the name of the pub David and Jack first encounter in American Werewolf.

Entering the pub it resembles the Slaughtered Lamb almost entirely, from darts being played, to a close-knit group of locals turning their noses up at the outsiders, and a rather blunt landlord played by John Henshaw, who is seemingly more helpful than the Slaughtered Lamb’s landlady, but still similar in their bluntness to cast the outsiders out, leaving them to face the horror that awaits them. One local even offers to take the reporters their by van, providing they don’t mind riding in back with the sheep which he refers to as his “girls”, another clear reference to American Werewolf’s opening scene where Jack and David hop off the back of a sheep-filled truck and say “bye girls”.

Locals at the Blue Moon inn

American werewolf isn’t the only classic film referenced though. Later in the film, we see Fleets’ Oliver Lawrence enter a room to find a cane with a silver wolf’s head adorning the top of it. This is a reference to the classic 1941 Universal Studios monster film, The Wolf Man, in which Lawrence Talbot, played by Lon Chaney Jr. purchases a cane with a silver wolf’s head and pentagram adorning the top of it. This cane becomes iconic in the film. However, the cane in Wolf Manor does not include the pentagram, and neither did the inn, as seen in American Werewolf. Further references to The Wolf Man include the name of the house being called “Talbot Manor”, a reference to the character of Lawrence Talbot, as well as the previously mentioned surname of Fleets’ character Oliver Lawrence, which again refers back to Lawrence Talbot, the protagonist of 1941’s The Wolf Man and it’s sequels.

The werewolf design in itself resembles the design of the werewolves in The Howling (1981), with the long ears, and long shaggy fur. However, its squished and wrinkled face resembles closer to that of more classic wolfman designs used in Werewolf of London (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), Legend of the Werewolf (1975), and so on. Either way, it is a truly terrifying design and one that works well within the film.

The choice to have one of the main characters remain in their vampire costume may also be a nod to the idea of vampires being the mortal (or immortal) enemy of werewolves, which is popularised in movies as seen in Van Helsing (2004), the Underworld film franchise and the Twilight franchise.

Conclusion:

Wolf Manor is bloody good fun and unapologetically British with its humour. The pacing is fine, the cinematography is excellent, and the plot is simple to follow, at least right up until the final shot, but that just leaves me wanting more. There is a fun after-credits short film that gives some history to certain aspects of the film’s present-day plot, which also provides more references and more werewolf fun.

If you’re a fan of British Horror, especially within the werewolf subgenre, then I would definitely recommend Wolf Manor to you. It is available for Digital Download on all major platforms including AppleTV, Google Play, Amazon and Sky Store (UK-only). You can also pick up the DVD from your local HMV, Asda or Morrisons. Or, like me, you could buy it on Amazon if you don’t want to leave the house…especially during a full moon!

Watch the trailer below:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life

Keith R.A. DeCandido's mad ramblings

The Joker’s HQ

News, reviews and opinions on all things geek!

DCs Earth-9

Travelling the Multiverse

KRAD's Inaccurate Guide to Life

Keith R.A. DeCandido's mad ramblings

The Joker’s HQ

News, reviews and opinions on all things geek!

DCs Earth-9

Travelling the Multiverse

%d bloggers like this: