3/5 Dir Joe Johnston US (18+) There are two things The Wolfman does well: 1890s gothic, an old-fashioned spookiness seeping through the thick mist of rural England and struck up by a histrionic score; and gore, lots of it, spilling generously from guts and throats. And yet The Wolfman is never genuinely scary, or even tense. It’s a peculiar failure.
The plot, your average ‘man is bitten by the beast and transformed into a beast himself’, is no great shakes, but the performers – Benicio del Toro likeable as the condemned man, Emily Blunt believable as ever as the potential love of his life – could have saved it if they’d had a decent script to work with. Instead, we’re offered not a shred of dramatic tension, not a hint of emotional involvement, and in its place a predictable series of events that are neither completely dull nor particularly engaging. It’s directionless, most likely a result of the studio-director wrangling that started even before shooting had. As a result, The Wolfman is neither awful nor very good, but at all times soaked in the scent of wasted potential.