Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

“SPOILER REVIEW” – So if anyone actually wants to see this movie, please, please, please do NOT read this as I am going to divulge all of the itty mysterious bits of director Jeff Wadlow’s little high school mystery thriller ‘Cry Wolf’.

Who doesn’t like a bunch of women in their mid to late twenties donning catholic school girl uniforms complete with white knee highs and passing them off as high schoolers?  I know me and the Japanese do.  I need to find out why filmmakers don’t use actual high school age kids to be high schoolers in their movies.  Since it almost NEVER happens, I’m sure there’s a darn good reason.  Award for best grown ass woman in a school girl outfit?  Rosario Dawson in the ‘The 25th Hour’.  Outstanding!

Meet Owen Matthews, a young British lad who has gotten into so much trouble on that dreary island that his old man has had to send him to some boarding high school in the United States in the hope that he can salvage his young life and hopefully end up an Oxford man after all.  The first person Owen meets at his new school is a super cute red head who goes by the name of Dodger, and is the most popular girl in school.  Since Dodger deems Owen cute and his roommate is the rich and popular Tom (Jared Padelicki), this makes Owen part of the ‘in’ crowd by default and they let him in on a little nighttime game they play to pass the idle time.  Now I didn’t quite understand this game, but I do know it involves avoiding suspicion, manipulating your friends and eliminating your enemies.  I know this partly because it’s like the movies tagline. 

Our randy little ‘teens’ have become bored playing this game amongst themselves and have decided to step it up and play it against the unsuspecting student body.  You see, the day before Owen arrived at the school somebody killed a local town girl and these guys decide to float out an e-mail and pretend that it’s a serial killer on the loose and

that the police suspects one of the staff or student body members.  As  planned, the rumor takes off like wildfire with one little problem; it seems the real killer not only has read the e-mail but may very well be one of the ‘in’ kids.  Things get seriously out of hand rather quickly as no one knows who’s what, what’s who or which is which.  The only thing Owen knows it that his life is over if he doesn’t figure this thing out quickly.

Being as this is one of those ‘thrillers with a twist’, everything kinds of hinges on the rub.  But Director Wadlow, who also co-wrote laid out his plan a little too clear and plain to fool anyone.  Even with one of the films first lines when Owen tells his journalism teacher played by rockin’ John Bon Jovi that basically ‘Nothing is real in high school’ gives it all away.  There are a couple things that you are forced to believe if you want to buy into this story, and the first is that there are no limits that a kid will go to pull off a practical joke.  No limits whatsoever.  Even when the joke has gotten wildly out of hand.  You know what, chasing a dude around school in a ski mask with serrated blade trying to slash him may be taking the joke a little too far.  Putting blood on the steering wheel, popping up from the back seat in a ski mask with a knife to pretend to slash someone’s throat may be taking the joke too far.  Hiding in the girls showers, where they tend to get naked, wearing a ski mask and brandishing a knife may be taking the joke a little too far.

Once Dodger got caught in one lie, her credibility was lost for the duration, which is a problem since a large portion of us believing the story hinges on us believing Dodger later on.  When Owen stumbles upon the dead and bloodied Randall (Jesse Janzen), chances are he’s not dead since Tom told us more than once that one the crew was as a master at make up effects.  And ultimately, you have to buy that Dodger was able to mastermind this whole setup from beginning to end, not overlooking even the most minute detail and have the plan play out perfectly with the precision a Beethoven symphony.  Hmmm. I didn’t but it, and thus this thriller didn’t thrill.

Now ‘Cry Wolf’ was a well crafted work and Wadlow had a couple of incredibly clever little devices he used to tell his story that were expertly executed.  I don’t know about actor Gary Cole with a British accent though.  I’m only a little disappointed because the effort was certainly there and the atmosphere for this tale was very good.  But if they can’t get you with the rub, then ultimately the film has failed, which is too bad for ‘Cry Wolf’.

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