Wolf Hollow (2023) Review
After sitting through the less-than-satisfying Viking Wolf I wanted a lycanthropic film with a bit more bite to it. As it happened, I had the screener for the new film from writer/director Mark Cantu (Massacre Academy, Night Zero), Wolf Hollow waiting to be watched. Five minutes into it I’d already seen more gore than in the entire running time of A Norwegian Werewolf in High School as a drunken bonfire is invaded by a pack of werewolves.
A year later two things are happening. Evie (Felissa Rose, Knifecorp, A Nun’s Curse) and Bart Neuri (Brian Ceponis, Occurrence at Mills Creek, Flatwoods) are meeting with Mayor Schuzmarke (Daniel John Kearney, Dementophobia, Mothman) about the absorption of Wolf Hollow by the adjacent town. An act caused in part by certain incidents on the Neuri’s property a year ago.
And in the hamlet of Wolf Hollow itself, a crew of low-budget filmmakers are heading to a great location their producer Alex Romero (Christina Krakowski, Done Waiting: Chapter 2, The Spark) lucked into. It’s a beautiful piece of rural property owned by the family of her new assistant, Ray Neuri (Noah Welter, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, An American Pickle).
We get a bit of backwoods family politics and drama mixed with plenty of dysfunction on the film set, including plenty of conflict between Alex and Beth (Jess Uhler, The Boonies, Clown a Twisted Tale of Love), the film’s director as well as a great turn by Lynn Lowry (Guns of Eden, Fang) as a past her prime diva.
While this is actually quite amusing, and occasionally funny, thankfully the wolves are back by the film’s half-hour mark and things truly kick into gear. Not only do we get the main story involving the film crew, but there’s also an Assault on Precinct 13 type situation at the local police station and assorted other bits of mayhem to keep Wolf Hollow’s pace from slowing down.
While Wolf Hollow had a fairly good budget as indie horror films go, that’s still not a lot of money. So it’s quite impressive just how much the filmmakers deliver. The two-legged werewolves are practical, man in a suit effects that we frequently get to see. While an elaborate, full body transformation was probably beyond the film’s budget we do at least get a few partial shots.
And there’s lots of gore, bodies get ripped open, heads and limbs are torn off, another head explodes thanks to a shotgun blast, it’s a long and impressive list. There’s one shot that looks like it might have been CGI-enhanced, everything else looks to be practical effects. Wolf Hollow is easily the bloodiest werewolf film I’ve seen since Bonehill Road and one of the most enjoyable.
One unexpected treat is the performance of Brandon Krum (Amityville Karen, ShadowMarsh) as Lucky Steve, the film’s pyro specialist. The misfortunes that befall him plus scenes of his wielding a shotgun after losing an arm are part of a great running gag that continues into the mid-credits scene. There are also several other familiar faces scattered among the cast including Hans Hernke (Bermuda Island, Virus of the Undead: Pandemic Outbreak) and Hannah Fierman (Dead by Midnight (Y2Kill), Haven’s End).
A film that does indeed put the bite back into the genre, Wolf Hollow manages to sidestep a lot of the problems that plague ambitious indie horror films. Most importantly it avoids the tendency to run longer than needed and delivers eighty fast-paced, bloody minutes of fun.
Wolf Hollow is currently scheduled to have its theatrical premiere on April 1st. You can check the film’s Facebook group for more information. while you’re waiting for its release, FilmTagger can suggest some other lycan themed films.