Goddamnit!!! I should have known better. Never trust a movie that ends as a courtroom drama but didn’t start off as one. Never trust a movie named after the main character. And, ESPECIALLY never trust a non-asian movie with a two word summary of its plot IN the title.
“Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt” takes place in 1851 Spain and concerns a series of brutal murders where the fat was removed from the victims. Julian Sands plays Manuel Romasanta, the obvious guilty party. When we’re introduced to him, he’s married to the oldest sister of three and living on their farm in Northern Spain. That’s all you really need to know about the setup, and I have no wish to revisit this movie any more than I have to.
Let’s start with the little itty bit of good. There’s a very very incredible werewolf transformation that looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s as original as the ones in “The Howling” or “American Werewolf” were in their day. So, hats off to José Quetglás who created the effects. Then there’s the cinematography by Javier G. Salmones, which is gorgeous. Salmones makes the film look a lot better than it deserves. Then there’s Julian Sands who’s excellent as always, even if his role is underwritten and not very interesting. Lastly, there’s one honestly disturbing scene involving the method of making birds fly like butterflies.
Now the bad, and there is lots of it. The pacing sucks. The story sucks. The plot sucks. Whoever wrote this makes every single possible mistake that an amateur could make. The story meanders like crazy, going from one thing to another. One minute Romasanta is living here, then he’s killed them, then we follow the police trying to clue together the crime, then he’s being hunted, then he’s hiding with another family, then he’s running again, then there’s a Hannibal Lecter moment, then we’re in the courtroom… then blah… who cares in the end? There are a million characters and none of them have any personality. They’re just there for atmosphere. They’re meaningless.
Not to mention that one major character wanders in and out of the movie like a cipher until the very end. He starts the film by narrating it, then I guess he gets bored because he never narrates it again. Let’s not even get into the fact that neither his narration, nor his dialogue make any sense once we discover his big secret. “Amateurish” doesn’t even begin to describe what’s on screen and the fact that it took TWO people to write the screenplay and a third to come up with the “story” should be an embarrassment to all parties concerned.
But there’s more…
The absolute worst thing in the movie is that you’ll be watching a bad part, bored out of your mind, and then miraculously the film looks like it’s going to turn interesting, but then instead of doing that, it becomes even worse than before and fucks you with the big giant dick of hope; not just once, but three or four times!
By the time we get to the “werewolf hunt” part, the film looks like it’s been going on and on and on for about a year. In fact, I’ll be serious here, I was certain that this was a 2 hour plus movie even though it’s just 90 minutes. It drags that much. During the last third of the film, whenever a scene that looked like it might be the end came along, I was just praying for a fade to black. I didn’t care anymore if the film made sense. I just wanted the blissful relief of seeing THE END flash across the screen. Of course, when the wonderful moment arrived, the movie managed to muck it up. The “real” story about Romasanta flashed across the screen and completely contradicted what we’d just seen before. Ed Wood couldn’t have been prouder.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Another thing that the movie gets wrong is that the common Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) is not dangerous to humans in any way. They’re scavengers or predators of opportunity. They’ll never attack anything or anyone who looks like it could give them any kind of fight. Please do respect our Lupine brothers. Thank you.