Filmmakers have tried to outdo The Howling and An American Werewolf in London ever since the films reestablished the werewolf genre 20 years ago. While a few movies have come close (Fright Night, for instance), they have yet to match the thrills and chills of those earlier films. As we patiently await the next werewolf classic, DarkWolf prowls into the race. Could this be the movie that redefines the werewolf genre forever?
Nope. Not even close. If Bad Moon is at the bottom of the barrel, DarkWolf is buried far, far beneath. Although it appeals to its target audience of horny teenagers and sex-deprived old men by featuring plenty of blood and boobs, the movie completely lacks everything else.
Still, DarkWolf doesn't keep its audience waiting for blood and bare breasts. It opens in a LA strip club, where exotic dancers caress their breasts in front of drooling admirers. Suddenly, a big burly biker dude (Kane Hodder) running from the LAPD crashes the party, but detectives Hartigan (Steven Williams) and Turley (Ryan Alosio) quickly apprehend and secure the man inside a police van. Almost instantly, however, the van starts shaking violently, and then a large, hairy beast slices through the metal and kills Hartigan, before escaping into the Los Angeles nightscape.
Where did the beast come from? You guessed it: the biker dude transformed into a werewolf under the full moon. In complicated theology, Turley explains to rookie detective McGowan (Jaime Bergman) that the biker they arrested was the human form of DarkWolf, which will stop at nothing to mate with a very special wolf-woman in an attempt to breed--although the wolf-woman (Samaire Armstrong) is unaware of her special wolf powers. Now, Turley and McGowan must stop this vicious beast before it sleeps with wolf-woman.
It's difficult to buy any of the inane werewolf mythology, largely because none of the characters seem buy it themselves. If you just witnessed a vicious werewolf tear through steel and rip a man to bloody shreds, wouldn't you be a little stunned, in shock, perhaps? Not McGowan. She shows a little obligatory surprise, but accepts Turley's explanation without too many questions.
DarkWolf is not exactly blessed with a gifted cast, which consists of horror movie has-beens (Kane Hodder, Tippin Hedren), a Playboy Playmate (Bergman), and lots of TV actors. (One actress's most prominent achievement is her role as Yellow Ranger on Power Rangers: Light Speed Rescue.) I've seen junior high school plays with a higher acting caliber than that of Kane Hodder, who can't hide behind a Jason Voorhees hockey mask this time. Acting conservatories should really start teaching his performance method, which consists of making scary faces at the camera, and occasionally snarling.
The special effects are equally laughable. The CGI effects look like something out of a cheap video game and the DarkWolf costume looks as if it was purchased on clearance at Halloween USA. The blood doesn't even look real -- it is far too watery. Perhaps the props people didn't follow the ketchup-water recipe that they probably found on the Internet.
Oh, and the script -- yep -- it sucks too. The dialogue is complete exposition, which is not necessarily a bad thing here; the story would be nonexistent if the characters were not so kind as to explain it to us. Despite his inability to pen dialogue, Geoffrey Alan Holliday does include some stylish visuals in his screenplay. There is a scene involving two women who wear werewolf makeup as they perform an erotic lesbian dance. In a different movie, this scene might have been interesting, but DarkWolf focuses more on the bare breasts than on the scene's unique sensual nature.