Critics panned this film and while the film isn’t perfect and its constant “boo” moments are bordering to tiring, I love this film for what its worth. It’s a period piece, a well executed one at that, and solid one-dimensional performances by their actors. At least they didn’t look bored.
Do I need to explain the origin of werewolves? Of how they transformed during the Autumn full moon? Of how they are vulnerable to bullets cast in silver? Exposed enough to the world of fiction, I don’t have to. However, given that you’re miserable enough to not know such myth, the film gave you an origin. In one single take.
It was Blackmoor, England, 19th century. Everything I had imagined from England in that period from many fictions I had read. Grey, devoid of colors, bleak, wet, and miserable. The Talbots is perhaps one of the wealthiest family in the city. Anthony Hopkins is the father, John, Benicio Del Toro is the elder son, Lawrence, Simon Merrels is the younger son, Ben and Emily Blunt is Ben’s fiancee, Gwen Conliffe. Lawrence is a theater artist. A traumatic experience from his childhood has left him disconnected with his family until Gwen wrote him a letter informing that his younger brother has been missing. Upon returning to Blackmoor, Lawrence discovers that Ben was savagely murdered. Wanting to solve the mystery, Lawrence soon involved in a nightmare, an acquaintance with his own personal nightmare from his childhood, and the truth about the Talbots.
For me, the film’s attempt to set the mood worked well. I had no complaints whatsoever on the setting. In fact, and this may have attributed to what may’ve clouded my judgement, I love it. The high hat, the creepy mansion, the street with its residents, even the woods, worked in my favor.
Even so, and perhaps what had made critics panned this film so badly, the film was too relentless in pacing and cares about one thing and one thing only. The werewolves. The flirting romance is all but existent, the grander theme that explores the relationship between father and son and the son’s particular dealing with his traumatic experience was merely a scratch on the surface. The film was only interested in shocked its audiences by showing as much gore as it is permitted, and surprised its audiences with a sudden movement that almost always accompanied by a loud “boo.” Of course, it grows old rather quickly and it boils down, finally, to a monster vs monster showdown.
Like I’ve said, the actors were solid, given that they only portrayed a one-dimensional character only. Del Toro rarely ventures into a territory other than his droopy-eyed and gaunt expression. Hopkins just there to deliver his accents, and Blunt was as usual damsel in distress, and hopelessly in love. Hugo Weaving was a nice relief actually, probably the only good impression performance-wise I’ve had from the film. Other than that, the film’s main strength for me, is its production values. Detailed, well done, and its cinematography perfectly sets the mood. Again, I repeat, grey, devoid of colors, bleak, wet, and miserable.
My rating: **1/2 / **** Too many “boo” moments to my liking. It grows old very quickly. However, the film has enough quality in its production value and has a relentless pacing enough to draw me away from the overall quality of the film. It was more gore than creepy, and more loud than scary.