Based on the novel of the same name by Mo Hayder, Wolf is one of the more memorable BBC series in recent years, thanks to its wicked blend of genres, thrilling intersecting plotlines and an overarching mystery that will keep viewers guessing until the very end.
One part of the series follows DI Jack Caffery (Ukweli Roach) as he works to uncover the truth behind a notorious murder that took place in the Welsh countryside some years ago. The other sees the wealthy Anchor-Ferrers family’s country getaway turn into a nightmare when two men impersonating policemen (played by Sacha Dhawan and Game Of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon) arrive at their door and hold them captive, telling them that they “want them to be scared”. Gradually, both narratives begin to intertwine as the terrible truth comes to light.
Caffery’s arc plays out like a more conventional BBC drama, as he follows a breadcrumb trail of leads that put him on the hunt to find the real killer (or killers). With a dancing man in a hazmat suit (who’s described at one point as being the “druggy Freddy Krueger”), alongside his own dark past to contend with, screenwriter Megan Gallagher sprinkles in more than enough tantalising hooks to keep audiences invested in the ensuing mystery despite Caffery’s overall lack of personality.
However, it’s the Anchor-Ferrers’ narrative that proves to be this series’ highlight. From the home invasion set-up to the darkly playful back-and-forth between Dhawan and Rheon, there’s a striking similarity between this segment and Michael Hanake’s Funny Games. Although Wolf isn’t nearly as nihilistic as Hanake’s film, the show nevertheless succeeds in creating an uncomfortably tense atmosphere whenever the pair are onscreen.
As enjoyably macabre Wolf can get, the drama doesn’t always manage to nail its tone. The moments of horror, particularly involving Jack’s creepy neighbour, never quite reach the chilling heights aimed for. These sequences seem like they’ve been dialled back for general audiences and consequently feel like missed potential to make the most out of the dark subject matter. Thankfully, the excellent handling of the comedy and mystery elements makes up for the lacklustre scares.
Throughout the course of its six episodes, Wolf weaves a twisting and sinister mystery that’s full of unexpected surprises. However, a foreboding cliffhanger suggests that audiences may need to wait for a second season to get uncover some remaining secrets.
Wolf is released on BBC iPlayer on 31st July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Wolf here: