Let me start with this: Some of the publicity is comparing “Call of the Wolf” to the horror classic “Saw,” and I wish they wouldn’t. Why? My wife likes a decent, psychological thriller as much as the next person, but when it comes to gore my wife hates it. She was immediately out of my living room screening of “Call of the Wolf” based on the preliminary “Revenant meets Saw” indication. Part of me, also, was waiting for the gore, but it never really came. The movie is a psychological thriller, true, and with that comes some violence, but none of it is the sadistic insanity that was “Saw.”
Okay, enough initial ranting, let’s get to the story…
Lester (Aleksander Ristic) wakes up in a cabin in the woods, confused. His supplies are limited, basically a rifle, some bullets, a Marine survival manual, a lantern, a walkie talkie, and whatever might be in a locked safe. It is through the walkie talkie that Lester is introduced to Wolf (Matthew Oliva), the dude who kidnapped Lester and left him in the cabin.
And the psychological messing with Lester begins, starting with Wolf telling Lester he was kidnapped because he has wasted his life.
We quickly learn Lester is a mix of cocky jerk, idiot, has no common sense, and has been pampered most of his life. Lester figures most of this kidnapping is about a ransom, but soon realizes Wolf is merely training him to be hunted.
As the movie continues many of the scenes have Wolf giving Lester helpful survival tips, but these are just enough to torment Lester at the same time, you know, simple things like I’ll kill the animal for you to eat, you just have to figure out how to cook it.
Sadly Lester can’t make a fire. Happily Wolf has also kidnapped Viviana (Cynthia Bravo), and taught her how to make fire.
These two must get together, and yes, Wolf sets that up in an attempt to test both of them by suggesting to each that they kill each other. And we also learn that Lester is kind of racist with the simple comment to Viviana, “Maybe he doesn’t like your kind.” “My kind?” “You’re Mexican.” Turns out Wolf has kidnapped Viviana because she needs to learn to stand up for herself.
Alrighty, our two heroes don’t kill each other, but eventually they learn that they need each other to survive, and now it’s time for the two of them to band together and beat Wolf at his own game.
Only they, well mostly Lester, are stupid.
Finally the climactic, ending scenes emerge, and I I’ll try not to ruin too much, but as much as some of the ending was good, much of it wasn’t filled with nice surprises like many of the earlier scenes. Suddenly things become a little too obvious, Lester has his epiphany monent, but during Part Six, titled “The Prey,” there is a fight scene that just completely had me scratching my head. I’m guessing there was some symbolism there, but most of it was just a lot of “Oh, come on!” moments, and my wishing the movie could have ended on a more creative note than how it wrapped up.
“Call of the Wolf” is a movie that is so close to being a solid film, up to a 4 star out of 5 star thriller from me, but the ending really fell apart, and that dropped things 1/2 star to leave the movie at a decent 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
Don’t worry about any “Saw” gore if you see a tagline for it because aside from some blood-spurting puncture wounds and some gunfire, no one is sawing off their ankles. For me “Call of the Wolf” reminded me a little more of “The Game,” the Michael Douglas classic from 20 years ago, where the lead character needs to learn something about himself to become a better person. Lester did learn a lot about himself, but the one thing Wolf really didn’t train him to do was be a better person at hand-to-hand combat.
Enjoy some psychological drama, with a little blood, and some surprises.
That’s it for this one! L8R!!