Movie Review
Cry Wolf poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published September 22, 2005
US Release: September 16, 2005

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Julian Morris , Lindy Booth , Jared Padalecki , Jon Bon Jovi

Running Time: 90 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $10,042,266
All of this crap is just the further milquetoasting of America in which horror movies are made with the consideration of family-oriented political groups.
Basically, I'm gonna tell you right upfront what we have here: a teenage slasher flick rated PG-13. You know what that means, kids: none of the bloody and titillating content that a real fan of this genre demands. Most horror - especially slasher movies - needs to be rated R in order to have the freedom to push boundaries; this material is not supposed to be for children. I enjoyed this year's House of Wax (B-) precisely because it was audaciously gory and over-the-top, and it targeted basically the same teenyboppers that this movie does. But this film plays it safe, and by the end it plays it even safer.

They try to do it as more of a mystery, with more twists and turns than the usual stalker type flick. I'll give the movie credit for at least putting forth the effort to rope the audience along, even if the plotting and payoff aren't stellar. The story takes place at a boarding prep school where all the students wear red sport jackets. Owen (Julian Morris) is a new British student transfer who is lost on campus in the beginning. He runs into Dodger (Lindy Booth), a girl with bright red hair who snuck out of an assembly and shows him the way to go. Owen meets Dodger's movie-ish cast of multi-ethnic friends, which includes his own roommate (Wax's Jared Padalecki). They all decide to play a prank on the entire school, harping on a recent murder that was committed in the woods near the campus (these youngins have sick minds). They send out e-mails to the whole school about a made-up serial killer just to mess with everybody. The rest of the movie is a prolonged session of trying to determine whether the killer is real or not, with both real and fake deaths to account for.

Julian Morris actually does a decent job as the main character. He's very British in the film and I got the impression that he is in real life. However, his dad is played by an accented Gary Cole, who is not British (at least I don't think he is). Regardless, Morris has a naive likability; you'd be pleased to meet him in real life. I can see this kid doing excellent work with the right circumstances. Lindy Booth does what she needs to as the girl who everything kinda centers around. She definitely has a lot of affectation and comes off as a movie archetype more than anything else, but she also has a kind of smooth watchability that carries you through her scenes with minimal fuss. Her red hair looks great and you can see why most any guy would go for her; the seductive and manipulative elements of her character are believable.

But what is not believable is the movie overall; it's just too airy and safe to have any kind of an impact. We never feel any tension or fright; we are simply watching the people onscreen go through the motions of a silly story. There's one scene in particular in which everybody admits a bunch of secrets to each other that's so hackneyed that you can't help but chuckle; stuff like this shatters any illusion that you're watching something meaningful take place.

The key to this type of movie is the scares and the blood, and Cry_Wolf has neither. It's kind of like the training-wheel version: My First Slasher Movie. It's for people who want to see a horror movie that's not horrific at all; these wuss-bags can say they watched a movie of this genre but don't have to experience any of the nasty and shocking things that make such fare worthwhile for the discerning viewer. All of this crap is just the further milquetoasting of America in which horror movies are made with the consideration of family-oriented political groups.

Movies like this prove that cinema itself is losing its edge. It's a two-sided conundrum: shock value has gone down because we feel like we've seen everything at least once, but it's also that the filmmakers themselves are not as willing to do anything controversial because it may lose them that reliably moronic mainstream audience. Let's get some directors, writers, producers and executives with balls; it's not that they don't exist currently, it's just that most of their contributions get swallowed up in the marketplace by iffy material like this. Stick your necks out people; even if they get chopped off, it'll be more entertaining than the violence in this film.
Scott's Grade: C
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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