Full of negatives, in slow motion

Usually, when a movie reviewer recommends a movie, it’s because the movie is good. However, with Brotherhood of the Wolf, it’s the opposite.

Brotherhood is so bad, it’s good. Never have I been so disappointed in the effects, suspense and plot of a film and been so thoroughly entertained.

Marketed as a period-horror from France, Brotherhood surpasses such a simple a description. Set at the end of the 18th century, it tries to be a horror but includes aspects of many genres. Take An American Werewolf in Paris (the sequel to the one in London), set it 200 years ago, toss in some romance, some kinky sex, Native Americans with magic mushrooms, John Woo, political uprisings, secret societies and switch the werewolf for the funniest looking monster ever-complete with porcupine-like spikes-and you have Brotherhood.

Confused? Let’s start from the beginning. Grégoire de Fronsac and his Iroquois blood-brother Mani arrive in a small town in the Gevaudan province to kill a wolf-like creature terrorizing the local woman and children. It hasn’t yet developed a taste for men. They speculate that the beast knows it can’t handle a full-grown man, thus showing the beast’s "superior intelligence"-just like the raptors in Jurassic Park.

The two men begin their hunt, either helped or hindered by an unflattering array of underachieving characters. As the movie develops, the true nature of the beast, its origins and its purpose slowly reveal themselves amidst an impressive series of plot twists-though if you’ve seen The Fugitive it’s easy to guess who controls the beast.

Brotherhood isn’t an entirely bad film, but the sum is less than its rather good parts. Overkill is one way to describe the fight scenes. The first, where Mani kicks a group of locals’ faces in, is but one of many well choreographed, long, overdone fights. Who would’ve thought such exciting moves could be so boring? There are so many impressive fight scenes in this film it’s numbing.

The beast is scary at first, because it isn’t actually shown until halfway through the film. Director Christophe Gans never should have shown it. Before the thing waddles onscreen, Brotherhood is actually kind of frightening. Once it’s seen, however, the fear dissolves into hysterical giggles. The imagination left to its own devices can create a monster much more frightening than Gans’ big, toothy joke-he should have had more faith in his viewers’ creativity than his special effects guy.

Nonetheless, one of the more impressive aspects of Brotherhood is the cinematography. The colours are stunning and the visuals are beautiful. Sadly, even these become quickly comical. One silly shot shows a woman’s breast fading and transforming into a mountain, while another sequence shot in negative slow-motion-an obvious rip-off of Death by Moonlight-seems oddly out of place.

Brotherhood of the Wolf fails to live up to any of its promises. It’s a horror movie, but it isn’t scary. As a martial arts flick, its repetition is numbing. Its saving grace is its cheesiness. You may not be frightened or thrilled, but Brotherhood of the Wolf is goofy enough to be entertainingly funny-even if that wasn’t the intention.


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