Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – 13 HRS

My notes on 13 HRS (aka Night Wolf)

This is a step up from director Jonathan Glendening’s S.N.U.B., but similarly suffers from patches of strident dialogue delivered awkwardly.  Though it’s in a different sub-genre (an early shot of the full moon and all the publicity give it away, though it doesn’t really admit the monster is a werewolf until late in the game), it’s also got much the same structure: a group of people in a remote location, at once rambling and claustrophobic, are chased all over the place by something violent which rends victims into red ruins.


Sarah Tyler (Isabella Calthorpe) comes back to the near-derelict manor house where her mother, stepfather Duncan Moore (Simon MacCorkindale) and three half-brothers live in English polite misery – there are intimations that Mum, who isn’t around, has been having an affair, and her main brother Stephen (Peter Gadiot) is an abrasive asshole who has been dating her best friend Emily (Gemma Atkinson) and keeping up a flow of unhelpful remarks.  While Sarah is in the barn where the brothers (Anthony De Liseo, Gabriel Thomson) and some local lads (Joshua Bowman, Tom Felton) are smoking dope and fooling with a broken-down old jeep, something rips Duncan to pieces.  The group is soon whittled down by monster-attack, and riven with dissent (Stephen is a particular character type common in recent horror – the all-round annoying, useless bastard whose every act makes things worse: it all turns out to be his fault).  They hide in the attic and squirrel through holes where one of the boys has stashed porn magazines, and experiment with ways of escaping or summoning help.  A call gets through, and local animal handler McRae (John Lynch) is called in by the police to respond to what they assume is a hoax or a non-urgent situation.


The identity of the feral beast is guessable – it’s the missing Mum (Sue Scadding) – but the exact circumstances, which emerge as bits of information come together, are neatly worked-out: the evidence that she was having an affair was a rental agreement on a property she kept quiet, and Stephen sabotaged her car when he thought she was heading off to see her lover, which actually delayed her as she was trying to get for a site she’d prepared to lock herself in during the nights of the full moon because she was afraid of exactly what happens – that she would turn on her loved ones.  Sarah is bitten by the creature – an unusual design, with a wolf-snout and a Nosferatu-ish bald head – and the bite heals too quickly: she becomes a tougher character, snapping back at insults thrown at her, and finally goes into a wolf-to-wolf tussle to save her youngest brother.  The monster is mostly just glimpsed – the most elaborate effect is poor, the bald cap Sarah wears when she wakes up the next day amid the ruins and the corpses.  It has well-thought-through characters and tensions, but too often people flat-out tell each other things we’ve already picked up.  The old house is a good location, credibly a relic of a posh family who have come down in the world – to the point when they even stop being entirely human.  It’s okayish for a micro-budget monster movie, but not as good as Wild Country, let alone Dog Soldiers.


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