Wolf House
R0 - America - Wild Eye Releasing
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (27th March 2017).
The Film

In the three years since the grisly and still unsolved events at the house of Jeffrey Schwartz (Marc Sturdivant), dubbed the "Wolf House" after the discovery of the animal-mutilated bodies of Alan Smith (Marcus Ganci-Rotella) and Rebekka Mann (Jessica Bell), two of a party of six including Schwartz (the other four of which are still missing to this day). Footage from a handicam belonging to Joey Heller (writer/director/producer/editor/make-up effects creator/cinematographer Ken Cosentino) and a GoPro camera belonging to John Carrier (Rick Williams) shows the last known events of their lives. Gathering together in a cramped cabin in the woods to celebrate John's proposal to Rebekkah, the obnoxious group of former high school friends are in for anything but a peaceful weekend. Joey is creeping on longtime crush Donna (co-writer Elizabeth Houlihan) who seems rather withdrawn from the festivities, more so than John's and Joey's too responsive punching bag Alan, and Jeff seems to be only one of the guys in the group who has truly grown up. Scratching on the outer walls of the cabin wakes the group at night and they discover the remains of an animal left at their doorstep like an offering. The next day's festivities are cut short when John shoots a large bear-like creature with a wolf-like head. Convinced that they have shot Bigfoot, the group takes the creature's carcass back to Jeffrey's house and store it in the basement while they determine who to call to cash in on their newfound fame. Loud noises draw the group back to the basement where they discover the creature gone and a hole in the outer wall, but the creature has not gone far, and it seems as though it has brought some buddies back with it. As the group's numbers shrink from around the corner attacks, Joey's camera captures evidence that savage beasts are not the only evil they have to worry about in the house.

Budgeted at five thousand dollars, Wolf House looks sufficiently slick for a found footage film, boasts okay performances of characters who are not all that likable (one has to wonder just how intentional this is since all of the other characters seem to be under the impression that put-upon Alan is the asshole of the group), and builds some tension out of running down too narrow corridors with the threat of something bursting out from a doorway or something captured in the character's periphery by the all-seeing camera. The monster attacks, on the other hand, are pretty laughable with the beast looking like a guy in a gorilla suit with a monster mask head. For some reason (either the filmmaker realized the monster wasn't cutting it or the supposition that the beast is one of a species of Native American shape-shifters), the monster attacks give way to over the shoulder appearances of eyeless demons and cultists in white and black make-up that are more effective but still rather nonsensical. Rather than actually reach some sort of climax, the film just runs out of steam at just under seventy minutes with the last camera holder falling into frame and being dragged off by creatures unknown. The film does little to distinguish itself from other found footage horror films (although not for lack of trying on the part of the cast), but Wolf House can be a decent timewaster for the found footage aficionado.
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Video

Although the feature plus extras adds up to roughly three hours, Wild Eye has elected to author the disc as a single-layer encode but has afforded a higher bitrate to the feature than the extras. The digitally-lensed image (at least partially shot with a GoPro) looks pretty slick throughout with a minimum of disruptive color re-grading and some video noise that may or may not be intentional but works for the format.
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Audio

The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track gets the job done in the "found footage" tradition with clear if not always even audio (given the different recording devices used by the characters), sudden noises in the night, and various jump scares.
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Extras

The film is accompanied by an audio commentary by actor/director Ken Cosentino and actors Elizabeth Houlihan and Marcus Ganci-Rotella which discusses what aspects of the film were scripted and what was improvised, questions raised about some of the ambiguous aspects of characterization, the contributions of the behind the camera team, and some less perceptible digital augmentation. The behind the scenes (22:56) featurette covers the blocking of scenes and gives some clearer views of the creatures but also shows that there was an actual crew behind the cameras (easy to forget in found footage films) and a sense of organization and choreography to the film's more chaotic moments. The featurette "Making the Monster" (85:18) documentary is longer than the film itself and follows the DIY travails of Cosentino to sculpt creature appliances and then make latex molds to fit over an animatronic head (attached to a motorcycle helmet). Several buckets of latex later, the final product is seen only briefly in the film; but the director's patience and frustration engenders more audience sympathy than any of the characters in the feature, and his ordeal makes it hard to dismiss his burgeoning talents based on Wolf House. The film's trailer (1:05) is also included along with previews for two other films.
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Overall

Wolf House does little to distinguish itself from other found footage horror films but can be a decent timewaster for the found footage aficionado.

 


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