The Wolfman is not a film for the faint of heart. I jumped out of my seat no less than five times and may have even stifled a scream or two while watching Benicio del Toro's 21st century update of Lon Chaney's 1941 original. This aint your grandma's schlocky horror film, it is downright scary.
The film centers around del Toro's character, Lawrence Talbot, who is called back to his childhood home when his brother's fiance informs him that her betrothed has gone missing. While trying to get to the bottom of what happened to his brother, Lawrence is attacked and falls prey to a curse that has haunted his family for years.
This is by no means Benicio del Toro's next Oscar winning role, but the end result of his turn as a lycanthrope is a howling good time (sorry, couldn't help myself). Del Toro manages to nail the conflicted nature of the Wolfman—all brooding eyes and sincerity—and succeeds in making us route for Lawrence Talbot. Even as Talbot is literally ripping through a crowd of innocent bystanders in a cheeky homage to makeup artist Rick Baker's American Werewolf in London, we still cheer for him to persevere because del Toro makes us empathize with the "Why me?" feeling of helplessness his character is clearly grappling with.
Talbot's relationship with his father, played with maniacal glee by Anthony Hopkins, is perhaps the strongest draw for the film. Seeing these two Oscar winners share the screen is a delight. But be warned, there is no shortage of gore in The Wolfman—especially in the final showdown scene between father and son, so don't head into the theater expecting a cerebral horror film. Come to think of it, this may be the perfect Valentine's day movie, especially if you need an excuse to cuddle up to your man.
The Wolfman opens everywhere today, Feb. 12, 2010.