|© 2008 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
There is an intriguing conceit at the heart of THE WOLVES OF KROMER: the
equation of being a werewolf with being a homosexual. Adapted from Matthew Read's
allegorical play, the film is a fairy tale in every meaning of the word and it owes more than
a passing resemblance to those penned by the Grimm brothers. Former Culture Club frontman
Boy George (a.k.a. George O'Dowd) provides the sparse narration.
Two impossible handsome young "wolves" (former models James Layton and Lee
Williams) dwell in the woods, wear tattered coats made of pelts and sport tails. Because
they are in the throes of first love, they aren't part of a pack. Their comrades tend to party
around campfires or hang out scoping out the competition in the verdant hills near the sleepy
town of Kromer.
In counterpoint to their tale unfolds a more sinister one. Two crone-like biddies, Fanny
(Rita Davies) and the dotty Doreen (Margaret Towner) are plotting to kill their martinet of
a mistress Mrs. Drax (Rosemary Dunham). Fanny has administered what she is sure is a
lethal dose of insulin and calls Mrs. Drax's son (David Prescott) and his family home.
Unfortunately for Fanny, the mistress proves hard to kill. Not only does the woman recover,
but she is none too pleased to see her only child and his wife (Angharad Rees) and
children the sexually provocative Polly (Leila Lloyd-Evelyn) and the sensitive Kester (Matthew
Dean). In order to facilitate their plot, Fanny hits on the idea of framing the wolves for the
murder by drugging old Mrs. Drax and leaving her out in the elements.
As she expected, the townspeople, fueled by the fire and brimstone attitude of the local
priest (Kevin Moore) band together to hunt the "wolves." At the same time, there's trouble
in the romantic paradise with Seth (Williams), a recent addition to the pack, questioning
whether he indeed is a wolf. He manages to catch the attention of Polly who seizes the
opportunity to quell her boredom by sleeping with him. Kester, who passes his time wolf
hunting with the priest, begins to discover his own wolf-like longings (which his mother is
quick to recognize).
Directed by first-time filmmaker Will Gould (who was all of 22 at the time the film was
made), THE WOLVES OF KROMER has some charms but the heavy-handed script (which
despite its conceit spells out such institutional homophobia as the church's) undercuts its
aim. The performances are uneven. Both Layton -- who calls to mind a handsomer version
of Rufus Sewell -- and Williams -- whose looks are more androgynous -- are pleasing
to watch but lack the necessary acting chops to make the characters anything more than
one-dimensional. Rita Davies and Margaret Towner are a hoot together as the diabolical
pair plotting murder and the script merely hints at their own "wolfish" behavior (lesbians
apparently have no place in the lupine social order).
While not an unmitigated disaster, THE WOLVES OF KROMER doesn't completely
realize its fascinating premise. In this case, the message overpowers the medium and
Gould and company end up preaching to the converted.
MPAA Rating: NONE
Running time: 82 mins.