wolf mansion, 2022.
Directed by Dominic Brunt.
With James Fleet, Jay Taylor, Nicky Evans and Rupert Proctor.
Shooting a vampire movie in an old abandoned house should have worked like a dream. However, with the full moon, the nightmare begins. The body count increases as the cast and crew encounter the mansion’s resident werewolf.
Emmerdale star-turned-horror filmmaker Dominic Brunt (Bait, attack adult babies) returns with its latest genre joint – a low-fi satire of low-budget horror cinema itself, though it lacks enough comedy or horror.
wolf mansion revolves around filming a low-budget vampire movie called Crimson Manor. The cast, crew and a number of journalists descend on a remote Shropshire mansion, but with the full moon shining they are about to become meals for a lycanthrope lurking among them who is eager to turn their production around. into a horrible reality.
Now Brunt’s film has no qualms about announcing its meager budget in its first few moments, with the filmmaker apparently hoping that the sheer charm of the production – which doesn’t take itself remotely seriously – will see it through. Still, it ultimately feels like a half-formed, undercooked idea that might have been better served as a cut-and-dried project, in which its on-and-off fun wouldn’t wear so thin.
That’s not to say Brunt’s film is completely unamusing as an expansive cinematic satire; “Trust me, I’m a producer,” Crimson Manor’s producer says early on, and most of the script relishes poking fun at valuable and important actors and whimsical reporters. That said, gags are almost always low-hanging fruit, building on tired Hollywood inside-baseball jokes we’ve seen and heard countless times before.
Screenwriters Joel Ferrari and Pete Wild strike gold on and off, however, by periodically focusing on underestimating “below the line” crew members on film sets. This is best epitomized by resourceful and courageous first assistant director Fiona (Thaila Zucchi), whose background in film productions makes her a born leader during the team’s fight for survival.
However, satire generally benefits from compelling characters to fuel its comedy, and wolf mansion is largely lacking on that front outside of Fiona and James Fleet’s alcoholic, perverted, pretentious professional actor, who hilariously if unsubtly goes by the name Oliver Lawrence.
As a horror movie, there’s quite a bit of gore, if certainly not enough to keep sleuths satiated, and the reliance on digital red stuff is unfortunate. As for Wolf, industry veteran Shaune Harrison does a respectable job with the prosthetic effects. We don’t see much of the werewolf, usually hidden in low light, but given the production’s obviously limited resources, it does the job just fine. Brunt certainly deserves credit for his wise use of directional lighting and fog when shooting exterior footage, because as we all know a backlit werewolf will almost still look cool no matter what budget you’re working with.
At just 85 minutes, it could never be called long, especially since the credits actually roll to the 70 minute mark, after which the picture’s runtime is completed with a post-credits sequence which one imagine few will stay (or feel bad about missing out). Even running so short, however, this farce begins to overstay its welcome by the time act three arrives, and again one suspects it might have worked better as a short or an episode of… Something.
wolf mansion isn’t going to bore anyone with its unassuming presence, but it lacks the conceptual smarts and charm to succeed as a low-fi cinematic satire.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more cinematic rides.