Wolvesbayne (2009)

Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Jeremy London, Marc Dacascos, Yancy Butler, Christy Carlson Romano, Rhett Giles, Stephanie Honore

Directed by Griff Furst

Wolvesbayne won’t win any awards for originality, but as I’ve said in the past, if you aren’t going to bring anything fresh to the table you better make sure to retread familiar territory in an entertaining fashion. This is exactly what director Griff Furst and company manages to do until the overwritten script begins to collapse in on itself during the second half. The breezy pace and enthusiastic cast is almost enough to make you overlook a most annoying turn the story takes.

One thing I do suspect viewers of this fast-paced action horror flick will have a hard time overlooking is how little screen time werewolves get despite ostensibly being billed as a werewolf movie. You can watch and tell every penny of the film’s limited budget is on the screen; maybe with a few more pennies they could have afforded to give the werewolves more face time.

Jeremy London (“Party of 5”, “7th Heaven”), showing more personality than usual, stars as greedy real estate developer Russel Bane; a chance roadside encounter with a werewolf leads to him inheriting its curse. After going through the usual newly cursed werewolf motions, the arrogant businessman goes seeking the assistance of the pretty proprietor of an occult shop (Christy Carlson Romano, the voice of Disney’s “Kim Possible”) he had been scheming to acquire the deed to. She has her own lycanthrope secret and takes the reluctant Bane under her wing to train him in the ways of the werewolf.

Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Bane’s werewolf problem quickly turns into a vampire problem when he garners the attention of a clan of vamps led by Marc Dacascos as Von Griem, a debonair bloodsucker fed up with his kind having to hide in the shadows.

That the vamps have splintered off into various factions that cannot seem to get along with each other complicates matters. Von Griem resurrects uber vampire Lilith (Yancy Butler, vamping and camping it up all at once, a vampire queen by way of “Mommy Dearest” Joan Crawford) hoping that she can help bring unity to their legion and lead them into a new era of fanged glory. Doing so will require them to acquire a series of amulets that will fully return Lilith’s god-like power.

With the exception of a sexy vampire assassin (Stephanie Honore, soon to be seen in Final Destination 3D) these vampires don’t do a whole heck of a lot that could be construed as vampiric. More of the World of Darkness “Vampire: The Masquerade” variety, which means excessive amounts of vampire politicking and an overemphasis on talking about what they’re plotting rather than actually doing what they’re plotting.

Bane gets roped into working with a team of vampire hunters, the leader of which, Jacob Van Helsing, played by former Asylum regular Rhett Giles, demonstrates a take-no-prisoners attitude that doesn’t sit well with Bane.

In fact, all of these vampire hunters are straight out of an Asylum film: Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse, to be exact. Screenwriter Leigh Scott wrote and directed that film back in his days working for The Asylum and brings a few of those characters back to life in this non-Asylum film. Though these vampire hunters are a colorful lot and Rhett Giles is an underrated actor who makes for a credible vampire slayer, the introduction of this clan of vampire hunters where the Wolvesbayne begins to derail.

Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Russel Bane’s progression from selfish jerk to reluctant werewolf superhero gets put on the back burner, along with his potential were-girl love interest, going from title character to second, maybe even third fiddle as the returning characters from Dracula’s Curse waltz in around the 50-minute mark and completely takeover the movie. I figured if nothing else it was all setting up Bane’s big moment during the final battle when he’d use his werewolfism to save the day, but, and this really is hard to believe, that’s not exactly how it goes. His big moment doesn’t even involve the use of his wolfman powers and Lilith’s downfall is almost entirely Van Helsing’s doing.

Imagine you’re watching the Wolverine origin movie. Two-thirds into the film the X-Men show up; recruit him, and from that point on he just becomes another face in the crowd while Professor X, Cyclops, and Storm dominate the proceedings and lead the charge against the bad guys. Then the final battle hardly involves Wolverine; he barely brandishes his claws and is just kind of there while other X-Men vanquish the villains. People watching a Wolverine movie probably want to watch Wolverine rip the bad guys to shreds, not smiling politely off to the side while Cyclops blasts the main supervillain into oblivion.

When Wolvesbayne was over I kind of had the feeling I’d just spent 90-minutes watching the superhero origin movie for a minor supporting sidekick. Even then the film is not half bad, but I can’t help but come away feeling a bit soured by the lack of werewolf action in what’s being billed primarily as a werewolf movie and then having that werewolf character we’re emotionally invested in all but sidelined by a group of secondary characters that dominate the entire third act.

2 1/2 out of 5

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  • RepublicNext

    As a huge Mark Dacascos fan I’m excited to see this film. I’ve been following his work for years now (Brotherhood of the Wolf, Double Dragon, I am Omega -with director Griff Furst, and now Wolvesbayne with Furst as well)

    Not excited to see Jeremy London be a “superhero,” I somehow doubt that pudgy clown could pull off a bad ass werewolf. Any number of people would have been a better casting choice here.

    When is this movie going to be released?

  • Rorschach

    It’s funny you should use that analogy, as that’s almost exactly what happened to fans of the “Dark Phoenix Saga” with X3, only in reverse. We went to the film thinking we were going to see Cyclops shine, and instead he got vaporized half way through so that Wolverine could steal his spot and hog even MORE camera time.

    Shame that werewolves keep getting the short end of the cinematic stick, though. Maybe Benecio’s WOLF MAN will change that?

  • Rob

    Bummer. That was one I was looking forward to. I’ll probably still give it a shot though, as soon as it shows up online.