cry_wolf | jeff wadlow | beau bauman | julian morris | lindy booth | jared padalecki | slasher | drama | thriller | united states | erica yates | jane beard | gary cole | jon bon jovi | jesse janzen | paul james | sandra mccoy | ethan cohn | kristy wu | game
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jeff Wadlow and Beau Bauman
Starring: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth and Jared Padalecki
This was a movie that I remember seeing my freshman year of college. It would make sense as I would have graduated in 2005 and probably saw this when I was visiting home. I believe my sister had this on DVD and I won’t lie, I really liked it that only time seeing it. I decided to watch this with my girlfriend, but I wasn’t sure how it would hold up and it was next my horror films to review. The synopsis is eight unsuspecting high school seniors at a posh boarding school, who delight themselves on playing games of lies, come face-to-face with terror and learn that nobody believes a liar – even when they’re telling the truth.
We start this off in the woods. A young woman named Becky (Erica Yates) is running away from someone. She tries to hide and the person calls her cellphone. This gives away their position and ultimately, they’re shot.
The movie then shifts over to Owen (Julian Morris). He’s starting at this new prep school and is looking for where he should be. He meets Dodger (Lindy Booth) as she exits the building. She informs him of the assembly and that this is a small school so she knew he was starting today. A Miss McNally (Jane Beard) comes out and scolds Dodger for not attending, but Owen covers for her.
Owen is paired up to room with Tom (Jared Padalecki). He is a jock, but not too much of a jerk. He wakes up Owen in the middle of the night to play a game. Owen isn’t interested until he learns that Dodger invited him. The game is the basis of the movie. Dodger randomly selects someone, in this case Owen. The goal is to accuse your friends of lying and try to figure out who the ‘wolf’ is as everyone else is the ‘sheep’. We see that Owen is pretty good at this and ends up winning the first night. He does make a comment about them being bored rich kids that Dodger takes offense too.
The group that plays this game is Randall (Jesse Janzen) who is into piercings and doesn’t really like Owen to start. Lewis (Paul James), a wannabe actor. His girlfriend is Mercedes (Sandra McCoy). There’s also Graham (Ethan Cohn) who also has a crush on Dodger, but she’s showing interest in Owen so he’s jealous. Then finally there’s Regina (Kristy Wu) who is into make-up and special effects as well as some other, non-named players.
The next morning Owen has a run-in with his teacher, Rich Walker (Jon Bon Jovi). He does seem like a good sport, but reveals there’s a new development. Dodger then fills in Owen. Over lunch they decide to alter their game a bit to play it with the whole school. They create a fictional serial killer, stating that this person picks off students at a school like they’re at. It starts with a townie that is shot, but then they use a knife and the group fill in their character types for the rest. Owen sends the e-mail from his computer, stating that he is just forwarding it. Mr. Walker reveals that the mother of Becky received it and that it has been passed on to the police.
Owen starts to feel uncomfortable when he gets an instant message from ‘The Wolf’ and then Randall disappears. He was leaving to go to a concert, so there’s an explanation. Owen starts to think there could be more to this. His new group of friends turn on each other though as weird things is happening to them all. Who is the Wolf? And is there really a serial killer?
Since I’ve already said, I did really like this movie the first time I saw it. I’m pretty sure that I even recommended it to other people. It intrigues me that this is technically the first PG-13 slasher, if you consider this a slasher, which I do. This actually reminds me a lot of a movie that is quite popular from the 80’s, but I can’t say which as that would be a major spoiler and I don’t want to do that.
What I will say is that I do find this story intriguing even though I kind of remembered the reveal. It had probably been 15 years since that first viewing, so not all of it came back to me. There’s a lot of moving pieces for sure and for the most part, I would say that it worked.
The reason that all of this is happening is pretty ruthless if I’m going to be honest. This is really out to ruin someone’s life and the person that is behind what is happening makes it even more intriguing to me. It’s not that I couldn’t imagine it, because that’s not the case. It does bring an interesting idea for someone that has fought for so much in their life that nothing will stop them. I do admire it, just not in the way it is done here.
That will take me to the pacing of the movie, which I’m not going to lie, I was pretty bored. I think that when I first watched it, as an 18 year old kid, I dug it. On top of that, I had seen pretty much all of the really good, mainstream slashers. This is definitely polished in the way that it is clean and really geared toward teens. I would say that it is dated using AIM, as that died out when I was still in college, with the rise of text messaging and chat apps that are on our phones. I still think the reveal and all of the moving parts were good, but the movie itself just really isn’t.
Taking this to the acting, I’m not going to lie. It’s hit or miss for me. I thought Morris was good as the lead. He looks so young and a bit naïve which I think works for his role with how things play out. I’m actually a fan of Booth, but I think her performance here is off. She tries to play mysterious and sexy throughout this, but it doesn’t feel natural. I don’t think she’s bad here, but just the direction for her doesn’t work. Padalecki, Janzen, James, McCoy, Cohn and Wu are all fine. I thought the cameos by Gary Cole as Owen’s father and Bon Jovi are interesting. Overall I’d just say the acting is pretty average.
Something that is a big problem for me though is the effects. When you’re doing to do a slasher, you either need to have a really good story or really good kills. This film has an interesting story as I said that is a bit implausible, but they really scaled back the kills. I don’t think I have the unrated cut on DVD, I could be wrong there. The deaths are really backloaded and they just give us flashes of them. The film is shot well in building suspense, so I will give credit there.
Now with that said, this movie unfortunately didn’t hold up as well as the younger version of me remembered it and that does make me a bit sad. I think that the concept is good and there’s a lot of moving parts that did work for me. The problem though is that it had trouble keeping my interest with how polished it is for a slasher film. The acting is hit or miss as I said. I wanted more from the effects and the soundtrack didn’t really stand out to me. Overall I would say that now I’m pretty indifferent to the movie and thought it was very average. I would recommend this for younger fans to help get them into the slasher film, but it might be a bit outdated with its technology.
My Rating: 5 out of 10