Review: ‘Wolfen’

Wolfen is consistently more interesting than it is thrilling. Policeman Albert Finney is confronted with a series of baffling, grisly murders, gradually realizing they are not the work of mere mortals. As always in the best of pictures like this, the buildup is the most fun.

Wolfen is consistently more interesting than it is thrilling. Policeman Albert Finney is confronted with a series of baffling, grisly murders, gradually realizing they are not the work of mere mortals. As always in the best of pictures like this, the buildup is the most fun.

Initially, director Michael Wadleigh creates an exceedingly chilling atmosphere, especially as Finney and Gregory Hines, excellent as a space-case coroner, deal matter-of-factly with the dismembered dead.

Wadleigh creates a surreal point-of-view for the killers that works effectively, accented by handy digital sound. Overall, Paul Sylbert’s production design is also a major plus. Add to that a splendid performance by Finney and a solid film debut for Diane Venora as his psychologist sidekick.

Film [from a novel by Whitley Strieber] was reportedly recut several times (four editors are credited) and a couple of bad cuts are clearly evident; a few scenes are awkward, too.

Wolfen

Production

Orion. Director Michael Wadleigh; Producer Rupert Hitzig; Screenplay David Eyre, Michael Wadleigh; Camera Gerry Fisher; Editor Chris Lebenzon, Dennis Dolan, Martin Bram, Marshall M. Borden; Music James Horner; Art Director Paul Sylbert

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 114 MIN.

With

Albert Finney Diane Venora Edward James Olmos Gregory Hines Tom Noonan Dick O'Neill
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