Blame the jaw-dropping, laugh-out-loud but still hot werewolf sex scene. Who knew she-werewolves got their underwear ideas (boy cut) from “Sex and the City”?
Embrace the high-end transformation effects, the inspired casting of Jason “Conan” Momoa as a were-villain. Cackle over the jokey-ironic tunes selected for the soundtrack — “Bad Dog” (Gravelroad), “Big Bad Wolf” (The Heavy).
Dumb as it is, darned if “Wolves” isn’t the most entertaining hairy-human with fangs picture in ages, a short, brisk Canadian-made thriller with more wit in its 86 minutes than “Twilight” managed in a whole series of vampires and werewolves tales.
It’s a teen coming-of-age picture, which Cayden Richards (Lucas Till) narrates, start to finish.
He’s a high school jock, a quarterback dating a potential prom queen. But he has these nightmares. And one night on the gridiron they start to come true. Supernatural strength overwhelms him and he bludgeons an unsportsmanlike opponent.
Then there’s his freak-out/make-out session with Lisa (Kaitlyn Leeb). When he comes to, there’s blood all over his house, his parents are mostly-eaten and Cayden goes on the run.
His first tip that he’s something special comes from the one-eyed biker, Wild Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson). Wild Joe knows. Check out the dude’s teeth.
“You’re a predator,” he growls. “That’s what you are.”
He sends Cayden off to find his kind, and that naturally takes him to Lupine Ridge. There’s a bar, run by the fetching Angelina (Merritt Patterson), she of the boy-cut undies, and her comically drunken sister (Melanie Scrofano). There’s work, with farmer John Tollerman (veteran character actor Stephen McHattie).
And there are a lot of people with luminous blue eyes, elaborate beards, men who smoke antique pipes with a Black Forest/Brother’s Grimm look, women who have a hint of the dog-in-heat about them.
Yeah, this is their town, “the most vicious, secretive pack on God’s green Earth.” Cayden’s going to have to fit in, or be eaten.
Till, who was Havok in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” has an agreeable screen presence and a voice deep enough to overcome his blond pretty-boy looks. Patterson, from TV’s “Ravenswood,” is beguiling and competent and hurls herself into the love scenes and fight scenes.
But Momoa, as Connor Slaughter, leader of the woodland wolves (as opposed to the domesticated “town” werewolves), dominates the picture and drives the action. He is menacing in every moment, utterly believable as an alpha dog who kills and eats other wolves as punishment. In a film with some pretty cool effects, he’s the coolest.
Writer-director David Hayter has fun with Momoa’s presence, with the music, with the effects and with throw away moments — a TV newscast labels the on-the-lam Cayden “The Cannibal Kid” for his crimes.
As zombies reach the limits of overexposure and vampires slide into semi-retirement for the same reasons, studios are sniffing around for werewolf scripts, reviving another staple of horror cinema as they do. But Hollywood will be hard pressed to top this lean Canadian indie picture that knows it’s just another dumb werewolf movie, but has fun with that knowledge.
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence throughout, and some sexuality
Cast: Lucas Till, Merritt Patterson, Jason Momoa, Stephen McHattie,
Credits: Written and directed by David Hayter. A Ketchup Entertainment release.
Running time: 1:26