CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! We all have inner demons that we repress. Writer-director Danny Dunlop’s fascinating, pitch-black character study Wolves examines what happens when those demons crawl out from the depths of our subconscious. The prevailing melancholia that singes each frame with its hot spiky thorns renders the film more frightening than your average psycho-thriller. It gradually burrows deep inside its nameless protagonist’s head, pulling the viewer along into the murky waters, refusing to provide any clear-cut resolutions. This is one of the most disturbing films of the year so far.
The opening shots establish the somber, alienating mood of Wolves. A jogger stumbles upon a mutilated animal carcass in a tunnel. A killer is on the loose in town, dismembering domestic animals. When a social recluse (Mark Nocent), referred to only as “him” (he’s so isolated from society, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s forgotten his name), finds out about the murders, he gets involved, visiting the scenes of the crime and connecting the dots on a large map with Post-Its.
“A killer is on the loose in town, dismembering domestic animals.”
With his thick eyebrows and large doe eyes, the young man exudes a vague, simmering sense of menace, angst, desperation, and loneliness. He gets fired from a moving company – and even punched by his boss – for stealing jewelry from customers and selling it at the local pawn shop. He lives in a dingy apartment with a pet turtle. He browses dating sites, and when he finally gathers the nerve to create an account, his profile is blank. He spends Christmas at an aging couple’s house – the only folks exhibiting a trace of kindness toward him.
The investigation eventually takes over his life. When a character asks, “What about this interests you so much?” he simply says, “I wanna find him. I’m not him… This is someone like me… I have to understand him. He’s so close. I’m so close.” Indeed, perhaps too close. A revealing flashback provides major clues in regards to his bizarre behavior. The search eventually leads him to a certain Nate Wells (Jake Raymond) and a culmination that ties most, if not all of it, together. The ambiguity is purposeful. Our hero gets a taste of something that opened him up to the world… but will he walk the path of the righteous?
"…one of the most disturbing films of the year."