Wolves at the Door
We’d probably be beating a dead horse if we suggested that a horror film based on the Tate murders was in bad taste. Director John R Leonetti’s Wolves at the Door isn’t the first cinematic feature to be based on these killings and it probably won’t be the last. Though, horror movies influenced by notorious crimes aren’t exactly something new – Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Silence of the Lambs were all inspired by the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein. Putting aside questions of appropriateness, the difference between Wolves at the Door and those others mentioned, is that those films are actually good.
For the sake of context, the Tate murders refers to the killings of Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent by members of Charles Manson’s apocalyptic cult, the “Family” in 1969. Wolves at the Door states it was “inspired by the infamous Manson Family murder spree”, but avoids claiming to be a strict portrayal of the crimes. Starring Katie Cassidy, Elizabeth Henstridge and Adam Campbell, the movie in fact depicts four friends who are stalked by mysterious deadly intruders.
Wolves at the Door does build up some legitimate tension early on, albeit rather generic. Some of its jump scares are well timed, if predictable. But the horror feels unfocused and fans of gratuitous violence are unlikely to be satisfied with the levels of gore here. Depictions of brutality against the characters are largely restrained, often handled off-screen, or, as in one example, portrayed in the blurry reflection of a TV. This feels oddly counter-intuitive in an exploitative slasher movie and fans of more profound horrors are unlikely to find any deeper thematic meaning in this film.
Attempts to construct the violent stalkers as credible threats are cringeworthy; the Manson Family were legitimately horrendous and terrifying – so why make them so cheesy here? For example, they turn on TVs then scuttle off to wherever, leaving the protagonists to encounter an empty room, which, for no discernible reason, makes it seem like the villains decided to emulate the malevolent force in Paranormal Activity. Other clichés include spooky nursery songs, expository period music and stilted dialogue.
Wolves at the Door isn’t bringing anything new to the table. It ends up being an unending stream of generic clichés in a genre already (at times unfairly) maligned for its derivativeness.
Wolves at the Door is released in selected cinemas on Friday 17th March 2017.
Watch the trailer for Wolves at the Door here: