There was enthusiastic applause in the theater when the name of author Annette Curtis Klause appeared in the opening credits. The book, about a teenage girl in Maryland whose werewolf issues serve as a metaphor for the sometimes-disturbing forces in adolescence, has a devoted following. But by the time the movie ended, there were only a few half-hearted claps from that same part of the theater. And the book’s fans were not the only ones who were disappointed.
The movie version’s lead is a little older (she seems to be out of school, with a job in a chocolate shop) and the location has been moved to Romania, for no particular reason.
Vivian (“ER”‘s Agnes Bruckner is a lone wolf, so to speak, regarded with some suspicion by the rest of the pack, and some jealousy, too. There’s some yadda yadda about a prophecy and her being chosen and “these are the ways of our people,” but it boils down to the fact that the leader of the pack, so to speak (Olivier Martinez, oily as always) has picked her to be his new she-wolf. Apparently, they have solved the whole seven-year-itch thing by giving the Big Bad Wolf the chance to select a new mate every seven years. But Vivian is different. The wolf pack loves to find a human to chase and kill, but she just loves to run because it makes her feel free.
Vivian meets Aiden, a human (Hugh Dancy), a graphic novelist with his own backstory, and soon he has her feeling hungry like a wolf, but only metaphorically. A couple of montages later (trying on clothes for the big date, running through fountains, looking up at the sky, all to some faux-indie music),
But wolves have strong feelings about their territory. They don’t like Vivian’s relationship with Aiden. When a confrontation with Vivian’s cousin ends in his being killed (by Aiden’s silver pendant), the young couple has to find a way to trust each other and create their own destiny.
There are a few nice touches — a falling red ribbon, an abandoned historic church, Vivian’s exuberant race through the streets. But the dialogue is weighted with dull claptrap about prophecies and “these are the ways of our people” and howlers like, “If you cared a Goddamn thing about me, you’d have left me before we even met,” the transformation scenes have no special vibrance, and Vivian’s existential angst just seems petulant. This wolf story is toothless.
Parents should know that this movie has intense and explicit peril and violence for a PG-13, including close-up shots of cuts and wounds, and fights with guns, knives, and very sharp teeth. Many characters are injured and killed. Characters use some strong language and drink and one deals drugs. There are some sexual references and there is brief non-sexual nudity.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Vivian felt responsible for her parents’ death. How did Aidan’s family background help him to understand her situation? What will happen to them? Are the wolf people cursed or blessed? Why?