New year, new you, new movie? Then perhaps you would like to kick-start 2023 with new British horror-comedy, Wolf Manor?
The film – directed by Dominic Brunt (aka Paddy from Emmerdale) – stars James Fleet, Fionnuala Milligan, Nicky Evans, Damien Mathews, and John Henshaw. The movie follows the story of a film crew, who become attacked by a werewolf, when they are in the process of completing a night shoot at a manor house.
In the film, two reporters are sent to the Midlands (in the hills just south of Bridgnorth to be exact), to conduct an on-set report about a new vampire movie called Crimson Manor. However, on their way to conduct some interviews, the pair are attacked by a mysterious beast, and one of the reporters is mauled to death.
The other reporter escapes and makes his way toward the film set, but this proves to be a bad decision, as the cast and crew of Crimson Manor are also being targeted by the werewolf. Over the course of the night, a rag-tag collection of actors and production crew find themselves in a fight for survival as the werewolf strikes from the shadows!
Daft, camp, and with its tongue placed firmly in cheek, Wolf Manor is a low-budget horror romp, designed for those who love a bit of fun with their blood splatter. The movie takes the tried-and-tested formula of a werewolf picture, adds a dash of humour to proceedings, and presents a macabre tale which should interest die-hard horror fans who don’t mind a few rough edges.
I say rough edges, because the film appears to have been shot on a shoestring, and not much else. As such, not everything is polished in this picture and it does suffer from a couple of key issues (more about that momentarily).
But for those who give it a chance, there is something in here to enjoy. At its heart, Wolf Manor is an enthusiastic film which understands its target audience and simply wants those who connect with it to have a laugh.
I’ll start with the positives first, and the best place to begin is with the movie’s playful tone. As noted above, Wolf Manor sets out to have a bit of fun with the audience, and this is certainly to its credit.
From nods to American Werewolf in London (1981), to a black-and-white post-credit scene featuring Rula Lenska, Wolf Manor never takes itself too seriously and this becomes part of its charm. The film understands that it is telling a fairly basic werewolf story, flung together with very little cash, yet it wants to make the most of the opportunity it has.
It does this by leaning into the humour, and allowing its actors to ham things up a touch. Every actor is given the opportunity to play up the more comical side of the picture, but the one who truly has a ball with it is James Fleet.
Fleet takes on the part of a slightly sozzled thesp, who believes he is a much better actor than he is. In this role, Fleet is given some great dialogue, including one or two of the movie’s funniest lines, and of course, he gets a wonderful showdown with the werewolf.
Next up are the movie’s special effects, which are really rather good. Considering the small budget this movie is working from, all of the visual effects are solid, and the werewolf costume is particular effective.
Yes, we’ve all seen countless werewolves on the big (and small) screen before, and yes, this should mean that all werewolves look good on camera; but the truth is, there are plenty that don’t! However, the hairy beast that pops up in Wolf Manor is genuinely impressive stuff.
And the rest of the effects hit the spot too. There aren’t really big stunts in the movie, but all the slash marks, severed heads, and cuts and scrapes that appear on camera are very effective.
Add to all this, the film is well lit, and the atmosphere is suitably dark and dank. This movie feels like it was born from a love of horror (Universal Monsters and Hammer Horror) and it certainly looks good.
As for the less successful aspects of the movie, well, these largely centre around the simple story, which is pretty thread bare. The narrative presented in the film is basic stuff and not much more.
If you’re after depth, you won’t really find it here. This film is more concerned with using a straight forward story to deliver the comedy and horror, so there are no huge twists and turns.
The editing in the movie is also an issue. A number of scenes run longer than they should, with some of the dialogue scenes feeling drawn out and a little lifeless.
The film could do with a few cuts here and there to speed up the material, and this in turn would quicken the pace. It could also do with being about ten minutes shorter, and again this is down to editing.
But if you can put these issues to one side, and look at what the film gets right, it is certainly something with a lot of character. It won’t work for everyone, and I expect the film’s very humble budget will put off a few audiences, but for those willing to overlook its limitations, and who want some daft British horror to enjoy with a beer or two, this may be one for you.
Should you wish to take a look at Wolf Manor, the film will be available to buy on DVD and digital download in the UK from January 9th.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review on It’s A Stampede!. For more reviews, check out the recommended reads below.