Cry_Wolf cries itself to sleep
September 19, 2005 —
Cry_Wolf is a stupid joke of a movie about a stupid joke. Poor acting, dialogue, setup, and writing crash together in an absurdity that forms a cacophony of viewer discontent. It looks like it wants to succeed, but doesn't everybody? Cry_Wolf is an exercise in futility, full of people struggling to cope with playing unlikable characters involved in an unlikable plot.
The movie is set at a high-dollar preparatory school, where a new student, Owen, has just arrived. Owen is an apparently intelligent young man who has been kicked out of other schools in his past. His father, a wealthy businessman, pulled some strings to give him a last chance at a good school.
Immediately upon arrival, Owen befriends a strange group of students who sneak out to the chapel at night to play a game.
The game involves tricking each other for no reason. That's it. One person is designated "the wolf" and everyone has to survive accusations. They bet money on it too. There is no evidence, just mindless accusations and defenses. One would think that there would be better/more exciting/more rewarding things to risk sneaking out of the dorms late at night for. Couldn't they just play poker?
The gimmick of the movie is that the cry wolf game becomes a microcosm for the later events of the film, which form the "scary" part, along with the rest of the stupid part. Very recently, a girl was killed in the woods in town. This is shown in the opening sequence which shows ingenious use of a cell phone. This is the only effective scene in the movie. It's all downhill from there. The group decides to make the game more exciting, and one of them comes up with an idea to play it with the whole school, against their will, by fabricating a serial killer and sending out information about him in a chain e-mail. The e-mail is written in such a manner that it seems like the killer is in town, and the girl in the woods was his first victim.
This could potentially be interesting if done in a completely different manner. For example, they never get to play the game with the school at all. No characters other than the small group of students are introduced, other than a journalism teacher played by Jon Bon Jovi, who could better spend his time singing. Instead, as the movie plods along, Owen receives clues that either someone is tricking him, or the killer is real.
It's a sad statement about the movie that I personally was able to correctly guess the identity of the killer within ten minutes of the start of the film. When the truth is revealed, the whole movie becomes like a slap in the face. The final minutes of the film reveal just how ridiculously improbable the events the plot hinges on were. When that door opened up, I wanted to slam it shut.
The score isn't too bad, so that is a plus. The acting could be worse, but could also be exponentially better. Bon Jovi does an adequate job with his role, but everyone else is stiff, fake, and unlikable. They don't tend to resemble real people.
The difference between Cry_Wolf and a movie like one of the Friday the 13th movies is that the Friday the 13th one knows how bad it is. It is able to play with that and make the movie amusing on some level. That means that it entertains, just not on the level it perhaps would have preferred to. A bad movie like Cry_Wolf, that doesn't realize how bad it is, ends up failing on every level, and entertaining on none.