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The Animal Is Out. 

Year: 1994 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Considering the current Hollywood vogue for vampires, monsters and all things gothic, that the werewolf would soon make a comeback to our cinema screens was a forgone conclusion. Wolf is a gripping drama that showcases the talents of two of Hollywood's biggest stars in an intelligent story that always promises a twist in its lupine tail.

Will Randall (Nicholson) is out driving one night in the pale moonlight (an owl hooted in the background... sorry... - Ed.) when he seemingly knocks down and kills a wolf. On getting out and trying to move the corpse he finds it to be very much alive as it kindly (for the sake of a good story) administers him with a bite.

The scene now shifts to New York, where Randall finds himself with extra body hair, strange sleeping habits and increased appetites, both carnal and carnivorous. His increasingly acute senses open a new sensory world to him, yet lead him to suspect that his wife is being unfaithful and that there is foul play at the publishing house, where his colleague Swinton (Spader) may not be as loyal as he seems.

The werewolf myth here has been successfully transposed onto a contemporary setting, paying homage to its origins without resorting to cliche, while cleverly parallelling the violent primal instincts of the wolfman with the cut-throat world of corporate business (wait for the scene where Nicholson "marks his territory")>

As his career shows (e.g. The Shining and Batman), Nicholson relishes the role of a man taken physically and emotionally to the edge, whilst turning in a restrained and convincing performance of great subtlety that never quite goes over the top. Pfeiffer also gives a fine performance as the woman who finds herself romantically drawn into Randall's split world and the wake of destruction he leaves behind, as he tries to restrain his repressed instincts in the face of the forces of social control.

Wolf is far from a routine treatment of the werewolf theme, Nichols places a greater emphasis on character and plot than special effects, yet it delivers these too, with excellent make-up effects by Rick "An American Werewolf in London" Baker, and an atmospheric score from movie maestro Ennion Morricone. A must see from last summer's releases, so decide for yourself whether a wolf's life is for you!

Michael Williams.

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Screenings of this film:

1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)