Wolf Manor (2022) Review

Wolf Manor Poster

You can be excused for thinking you somehow got the wrong film as Wolf Manor begins with the opening credits for a vampire film by the name of Crimson Manor starring Oliver Laurence. Don’t worry though, that’s the name of the film the cast of Wolf Manor, formerly Scream of the Wolf, is shooting. And Laurence (James Fleet, Operation Mincemeat, The Spy Who Dumped Me) is the production’s past his prime and over his limit star.

Right now they’re waiting for a visit from a pair of reporters, Trevor (Nicky Evans, Nightshooters, The Contract) and Simeon (Damien Matthews, Over Here, The Quarry Men). Thanks to a long sequence paying tribute to An American Werewolf in London’s Slaughtered Lamb interlude we know that the set will be getting a visitor, but it won’t be from the press. Peter (Stephen Mapes, Revelations, Class of ‘76) the producer was told they needed to vacate the location yesterday, but they just need a few more shots so they chance shooting into the night.

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Director Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn, Attack of the Adult Babies) and writers Joel Ferrari (Pandora) and Pete Wild do a bit of juggling to make Wolf Manor’s plot come together. There are cliches like the mansion’s owner, a magician known as The Great Mascalini, played by effects man Shaune Harrison (Redcon-1, Game of Thrones), having vanished in Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains.

There are also genre references for fans to chuckle over such as the pub scene and Oliver’s resemblance to Peter Vincent, the character Roddy McDowall played in Fright Night. And there are plenty of straight-up attack scenes to keep the casual viewers happy. And those attacks should indeed keep the audience happy as Shaune Harrison and Paula Anne Booker (Unwelcome, Midnight Peepshow) provide severed limbs and heads, entrails, and torn-up bodies done with practical effects. The werewolf itself is portrayed by Morgan Rees-Davies (The Highway Man, The Fourth Musketeer) in a nicely designed, if somewhat scrawny-looking, costume.

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On the other hand, as a horror comedy, Wolf Manor is rather hit-and-miss. There are jokes that hit the mark but quite a few of them, body parts being mistaken for props, Peter wanting to continue shooting even after it’s clear people are actually dying, etc. feel a bit stale to me. Those who haven’t seen as many films in this vein may find them more amusing.

Wolf Manor’s second half works better when it plays things straight. As the bodies keep dropping put upon production assistant Fiona (Thaila Zucchi, Purge of Kingdoms, Hi-Lo Joe) has to take charge providing the film with a protagonist it lacked up to that point. What’s more, it actually managed to surprise me towards the end with a twist I didn’t see coming. A twist in the final scenes isn’t quite as effective, however. There’s also a fairly long post-credits scene featuring Rula Lenska (The Huntress of Auschwitz, Royal Flash) that’s worth catching if you liked the film.

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For a low-budget film, Wolf Manor succeeds in getting a lot on the screen in terms of action and effects. There’s also some nice, atmospheric cinematography from Vince Knight (Renegades, The Killing Tree) to help the film maintain its suspense despite the attempts at humour. It’s not perfect, apart from the failed jokes it also suffers from a lack of a transformation scene. Granted there’s no actual need for one in the script, but a werewolf film just doesn’t feel complete without it. There are still more than enough reasons to watch it, especially if you like lycanthropes.

Lightbulb Film Distribution will release Wolf Manor on DVD and Digital platforms in the UK on January 9th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for news of releases elsewhere.

Our Score

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