Big Bad Wolf (2006)

Werewolf films are not an obvious choice if you're making a low budget feature. A zombie film, sure; slap some whiteface on your extras and you're ready to go. For vampires, you just need some fangs and a darkened room. But werewolves need costumes and, ideally, transformation sequences. The makers of Big Bad Wolf clearly didn't have a lot of cash to shell out, so in order to cover the second-hand ratty old carpet that passes for a wolf, they've not bothered to hire any actual actors. Interesting choice.

The film starts out like any number of other schlocky horror movies: a couple of random characters get knocked off by a monster, and then we cut to the real group of characters, who just happen to be, um, a group of teens who're heading off to party at a cabin in the middle of the woods. On the way, they meet a man whose car has broken down (hey, at least it wasn't their car, right?). He warns them to be careful in vague enough terms that it's hard to even dismiss him as a backwoods crazy; he might as well tell them to wrap up warm and eat their greens. Naturally, they carry on. If movies have taught us anything, it's that teenagers love to party in the middle of nowhere.

Things don't get better once they stop being lost and start partying. The two Generic Hot Girls do some painfully awkward "sexy" dancing on a table top; there's some painfully awkward "kinky" outdoor sex; and then a shitty-looking werewolf turns up and either rapes or eats everyone while spouting complete and utter nonsense.

Another interesting choice here, then: this werewolf can talk. Although a talking werewolf isn't quite so blasphemous as, say, a talking zombie, it's still pretty weird. And once it's picked off all the superfluous cast members, we're suddenly thrown back into suburbia, where the Hero and Heroine (I'm sure there were character names, but they're not really necessary) are struggling to come to terms with what just happened to them. For about two minutes. Then they manage to come to the conclusion that it was a werewolf attack, and that there's only one possible suspect. And he's not much nicer in his human form, either. Tediously, the film eventually ends up back at the cabin again with another set of hormonal pointless teenagers getting ripped apart before the wolf is defeated. Maybe. It's hard to care any more.

Structurally, Big Bad Wolf is all over the place. The story just about holds together, though there are some massive leaps of logic necessary to get you through to the end; and once you've got past those, there are all sorts of weird mini-niggles. For example, the heroine rolls up to her friend's house on a motorbike, parks it on the garage, then gets in a car clutching her helmet and takes off for the weekend. Um. Right.

Then there's the problem of all the rape. In the opening 20 minutes, Big Bad Wolf establishes that one of the Generic Hot Girls is a virgin, and that she's a gold-digger, planning to make her rich boyfriend marry her before she sleeps with him. It's a weird conversation anyway, because the other Generic Hot Girl is talking about how her boyfriend makes her play out all sorts of kinky fantasies in the bedroom, but how he's otherwise perfect marriage material - even though he's not very good looking, not very well-off, and is acting like kind of a moron. While I'm aware that the function of a Generic Hot Girl in a horror movie is to run, scream, and ultimately get slaughtered, I'm not sure what the purpose of making them quite this vacuous is. Anyway, Virgin Hot Girl soon has to fend off her amorous boyfriend when he decides he doesn't want to get married first; she basically stops him from raping her. Round of applause, right? Except that's when the werewolf breaks in and rapes her instead. There's a really horrible sense that you're supposed to think she deserved that; got put her in place. It left a bad taste in my mouth, anyway. Horror movies like this generally expose cultural and social attitudes - the conversation in Scream about the rules of horror movies spring to mind. Have pre-marital sex, and you'll get killed; get too drunk, and you'll get killed; do drugs, and you'll get killed, and so on, and so forth. They're supposed to be cautionary tales: even wandering off the beaten track and into the woods is grounds for murder in movies, because they want to scare you into doing the right thing. So in Big Bad Wolf, maybe it's wanting to get married for money or other such self-serving reasons that's being condemned; but it feels uncomfortably like that girl just got punished for refusing to put out.

To reinforce the point, the werewolf in human form later catches the Heroine breaking into his house and starts to get his rape on again. The Heroine, though, is a bit goth, a bit quirky, and very self-confident; masking her fear, she tells him that he doesn't need to force her, because she's willing to have sex with him. Thirty seconds later, she's running out of the front door with a "DNA sample" to send to the lab in order to confirm that that was, indeed, the werewolf. This part is really uncomfortable, especially because the point of that scene basically seems to have been to generate some much needed conflict. The whole point of it is to split up the Hero and Heroine so that they can later reconcile after defeating the monster together. At no point does the Heroine point out that she was under duress when she gathered the semen sample; in fact, when the Hero confronts her about it, she dithers and apologises, to the point of even saying "you know what kind of girl I am." The kind who figured it'd be easier to be complicit in her sexual assault rather than get beaten or killed by a monster? Ummm...

If this were a more intelligent film, maybe it wouldn't feel so uncomfortable and exploitative. Then again, if this were a more intelligent film, those things probably wouldn't have happened. Unfortunately, it's just cheap and nasty. Avoid.

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