- Another WolfCop
- Written by
- Lowell Dean
- Directed by
- Lowell Dean
- Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio and Jonathan Cherry
Another WolfCop is the kind of knowingly kitschy, throwback horror-comedy about which one is expected to say stuff like, "Sure, it's not high art, but if you check your expectations at the door, you'll enjoy yourself" or, "It's just good old-fashioned, brain-dead dumb fun. And sometimes that's just what you need!" It is, in short, the sort of movie so lacking in pretensions of being "good" that one is supposed to automatically forgive its glaring badness.
A sequel to the 2014's WolfCop, the brainchild of Canadian writer-director Lowell Dean, Another WolfCop feels hopelessly dated. And not just in the way it is ostensibly meant to feel dated, as a self-consciously "retro" genre effort that relies heavily on things like handmade gore effects, stilted dialogue, and dopey sexism. Another WolfCop is unfashionable even within the strata of retro, throwback, kitschy, semi-ironic/semi-sincere, genre efforts. It has been a decade since the cleverly packaged double bill of Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof inaugurated a wave of contemporary mock-grindhouse films (see: Hobo with a Shotgun, Piranha 3D, Machete, etc.), indebted to the cruddy look and choppy editing rhythms of low-budget exploitation cinema.
This wave of films tapped into a nostalgia that felt, at the time, legitimate. They expressed a longing not only for bygone genres and aesthetics usurped by the glean and gloss of the modern Hollywood blockbuster, but for the medium of film itself in the age of digital cinema. Cigarette burns, faked scratches across the images, and jumpy edits that suggest missing frames (if not whole reels) paid aesthetic tribute to a format that seemed alive, and even a little volatile. (The closest to volatility you're likely to get in the digital age is a multiplex DCP file just straight up not working.)
Ten years out from the Rodriguez/Tarantino Grindhouse twofer, a movie like Another WolfCop feels not so much genuinely nostalgic as reactionary. A lament, after all, suggests sorrow for the passing of something. The persistence of these sorts of jokey genre flicks betrays a certain stripe of filmmaker who would rather hang themselves up on old forms (and formats) than apply their talents (however nominal) into developing something – anything – that's convincingly novel or exciting.
To his credit, Dean's madcap vision feels genuinely deranged in places. Another WolfCop continues the adventures of alcoholic cop Lou Garou (get it?) who, under the full moon, transforms into a lycanthropic lawman. This time, he's squaring off against otherworldly beer barons whose egg-nog-flavoured brew contains the germ of monstrous spawn that will burst from its host's bloated belly, Alien-style. Add to this ludicrousness a frantic sex scene between a cop and a shapeshifting cat woman set to Gowan's Strange Animal and a climactic showdown set in a hockey rink and, yes, there's plenty in a way of dumb, and conspicuously Canadian, fun. (Ditto the villains' world-domination scheme, which liberally "borrows" from the Bob and Doug McKenzie movie Strange Brew.) Another WolfCop also does a fine job of crosscutting between various action sequences, in a way that skillfully builds tension.
Still: one wonders about the ambitions, artistic and comedic, of any film that stunt casts filmmaker/podcaster Kevin Smith, who can't even be bothered to dress up his hopelessly schlubby hockey jersey/backwards ball cap look to play Another WolfCop's small-town mayor. And one may naturally wince at even the modest throwback thrills as a desperate attempt to sustain an exhausted exploitation-cinema tradition that's already died twice. It may well be brain dead, dumb and intermittently a bit fun. But sometimes we need a bit more.
Another WolfCop opens Dec. 1 across Canada.