Sunday, August 03, 2014

Fantasia ’14: Wolfcop

Usually, it is the police who expect the crazies to come out during a full moon. Now it is the criminals turn to worry. Lou Garou was never much of a cop, but he has been changing lately. He still drinks like a fish, but he lays down a lot of law during the night shift. However, there might be more nefarious reasons for his lycanthropic state in Lowell Dean’s Wolfcop (trailer here), which screened during the 2014 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Garou is a drunk, who apparently only holds his job on a small Saskatchewan town’s police force out of respect for his late father. The captain hates his guts and his hard-charging colleague Tina thinks he is a loser, but Jessica, the hot barkeep, values him as a regular customer. After responding to a report of teenagers engaging in some sort ritual in the woods, Garou wakes up in bed with a pentagram carved into his chest. He also just cannot shave his persistent stumble anymore.

Yes, he is a werewolf, but he exercises a fair degree of control. He actually starts busting the meth gang that needed busting. Of course, he still swills whiskey and binges on donuts. He ought to be more concerned about the forces that caused his metamorphosis, but anticipating the long-term is not his forte.

How can you dislike a town that is home to the Liquor Donuts store and holds an annual “Drink & Shoot?” It all sounds very over the top, but Wolfcop is actually more of a movie-movie than the collection of gags it might look like. This sounds ridiculous, but Garou the Wolfcop has a fairly satisfying character development arc and it nicely brings a lot of the town’s history full circle.

Most importantly for werewolf fans raised on Rick Baker’s American Werewolf in London, Emerson Ziffle’s Wolfcop makeup is terrific. His transformations are satisfyingly gross, but the full wolf still has all kinds of personality to latch onto. It is not hard to see a franchise developing around him.

A game lead, Leo Fafard absolutely feasts on Garou’s degeneracy and revels in the Wolfcop’s fierceness. Clearly, he was also a good sport enduring Z’s make-up. Sarah Lind vamps it up quite entertainingly as Jessica, while Amy Matysio brings unexpected verve and attitude to the straight-laced Tina. Considering all the madness going on, the whole ensemble plays it rather impressively straight, scrupulously refraining from winking at the camera.

Never fear, there is still plenty of outrageous gore, plus the sex scene Universal never gave Lon Chaney Jr. Wolfcop is a tough titular concept to live up to, but Dean pulls it off. Good, gruesome, goofy fun, Wolfcop is likely to take on considerable legs following its screening at this year’s Fantasia.