Review: Wolf Garden


Have you ever walked into a restaurant and ordered a juicy hamburger with all the trimmings? And when the server brings the meal, you see the tempting sesame seed bun, the crisp lettuce and the ripe tomato slice, the aroma of Bermuda onion and dill pickle. But when you bite into it … where’s the burger?

I’m sure the concept for this film seemed intriguing to writer/director/actor Wayne David (“Good Citizen”). Wintry English countryside … isolated thatched cottage … handsome young couple … mysterious wolf howls in the night. However, the execution is woefully unsatisfying. Like the meal above, it’s all peripherals, lacking the essential. It’s all atmosphere, but short on oxygen.

William (Wayne David) and Chantelle (Sian Altman – “The Rise of the Beast”) are a young couple in love, spending time away from city pressures in a country cottage borrowed from a friend. The only problem is the story keeps switching between them together having a good time and William alone, in the dark, with very intrusive, creepy music telling us we should be on edge. When he’s alone, William is doing things like cutting up meat that he delivers to something in a locked shed some distance from the cottage. Gradually the episodes with the happy couple become less happy and more strained. But with no explanations!

Finally, more than two-thirds of the way through the movie, we get a whiff of the burger: William ventures outside in the dark, and is almost caught by something that we never see. He makes it back into the cottage but has left a door open. In comes something that wanders through the house, then leaves. Burger gone again.

One bright spot is the brief appearance by an enigmatic stranger (Grant Masters – “Dark Encounter”), who seems to know more about what’s going on than either William or those of us watching this flick. Masters does an excellent job, just puckish enough, and teasing us with allusions to things the director simply will not show us. In some ways, this character hearkens back to that of the dead Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne – “After Hours”) in “An American Werewolf in London.” In that film, Jack Goodman was a dead man who re-appeared to warn the hero of what was coming. Here, Grant Masters’ skill as an actor, under Wayne David’s direction, is the high point of the film, far above David’s own leaden performance.

With everything else, at least we could have been given some sort of back story for William and Chantrelle so we could develop some sort of feeling for them. But we are denied even that.

It is generally considered good practice to keep the monster in a monster movie pretty well hidden – if you show the whole thing people might see the zipper in the rubber suit (or goof-up in the CGI in newer monster movies). Well, like that mythical burger, the monster here is so well hidden we never do get a glimpse until … But why should I tell you when the writer/director/actor won’t?

Send this disappointing meal back to the kitchen.


Writer/Director: Wayne David
Producers: Dominic Davey, Wayne David
Cinematographer: Ariel Artur
Editor: Stephen Hedley
Music: Rupert Uzzell
Runtime: One hour, 29 minutes
Availability: Released from that locked shed on 2/28/2023

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