This lavish remake of Universal’s 1941 horror classic shifts the action back to 1891, with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) – who in real-life presided over the Jack the Ripper case – sent to the fictional town of Blackmoor to investigate some mysterious murders. Here we find a haggard-looking Benicio del Toro turning into a vicious R-rated killing machine and lumbering through a beautifully gothic landscape of misty forests and cobwebby hallways.
Pleasingly, Rick Baker’s decidedly retro makeup gives the lupine anti-hero the look of a man in a wolf costume. The CGI is hit and miss, however, and the character is ungainly and uninvolving when he’s bounding across London rooftops. More tangible delights come via Anthony Hopkins as an eccentric father with a few secrets of his own.
There are plenty of lines such as “May God have mercy on his soul”, with a rogues’ gallery of characters including a weedy vicar desperate to destroy the beast and a German psychiatrist administrating ‘cures’ at a mental asylum. It’s this self-awareness that I enjoyed, finding the film more camp than scary.
Possibly there was some intention to examine the idea of the beast within us all but Hollywood helmer Joe Johnston goes for thrills over chills. His over-the-top approach means that The Wolfman is a fun watch.