‘WolfCop’: The Charmingly Lame, Unlikely Netflix Hit
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because WolfCop is so bad that it’s good.
Lou Garou is the laziest, crappiest cop in the made-up Canadian town of Woodhaven. One night, after investigating a disturbance on the edge of town, he wakes up with a pentagram on his chest and a heightened sense of smell. He later transforms into a werewolf, has weird sex in a clearly fake jail cell, and finds himself the target of an occult jig where werewolvesare sacrificed to strengthen the powers of magical lizard people. But this is not a midnight Skinemax throwaway. Actually, it’s a cult hit on Netflix.
The great screenwriter William Goldman once said that in Hollywood, nobody knows anything about what works and what doesn’t. And on paper, WolfCop sounds like a dud. But director-writer Lowell Dean came up with an unlikely batch of elements that clicks. First, there’s the movie’s tone, which combines 1980s throwback nostalgia with absurdity and horror splashes. Like in Teen Wolf, characters live in a relatable, working-class town; their allegiances are separated in a simple, good guys vs. punky gangs structure. Fantastic punch lines abound. Horror films today take themselves too seriously, says Dean. He aimed to subvert that.
Some will say that, in classic terms, the film isn’t good. No shit.
Cut to the scenes when the werewolf goes in search of pig-mask-wearing thugs robbing a supermarket. He puts on his cop outfit over his fur, wields his gun as he barges inside, and when a shocked goon asks him what he is, he answers perfectly: “THE FUZZ!” After he wastes the seedy group, the wolfcop mauls/tricks out his own police car into the Wolf Cruiser, all while wearing welding goggles. Then he races off to a meth lab. Seriousness, subverted.
As for gore, there’s plenty. The flick’s practical effects evoke an era of genre-specific moviemaking. The moment the wolfcop rips off a henchman’s face during a fight is a true scene of horror — also, really icky — and was shot in stages with the help of practical effects guy Emersen Ziffle.
The film’s journey to Netflix is a success story of modern content distribution almost as fascinating as the wolfcop’s own transformation from loser to different breed of loser. Although it had limited distribution in Canada, meaning few saw it in theaters, it has taken off on Netflix.“When you make a movie called WolfCop , you want it to reach a mass (often liquored up) audience,” says Dean. Watching WolfCop tear up the intertubes is one of his “joys as a filmmaker.” More than 100,000 people have rated it.
Some will say that, in classic terms, the film isn’t good. No shit. The cinematography looks choppy and indoor sets are kinda bland. But the point is it’s both a true horror movie and a lively parody. And it’s about a cop who turns into a werewolf who becomes a cop. Don’t over-think this one.