Always with some trepidation do we press play on a werewolf horror. The bad easily outweigh the good with only a handful being what you’d call ‘classics.’
The creature just doesn’t lend itself well to horror, limited and un-adaptable, once you’ve seen one chances are you’ve seen them all. Beau Yotty’s Desert Wolf isn’t doing anything new with the werewolf, however it is a fun homage to the monster movies of the 80s.
In the small town of Junction City, Arizona a series of gruesome murders have taken place. Each victim looking like they were attacked by a wild animal and torn apart. The attacks only seem to have one thing in common. Each death coincided with a full moon.
For local sheriff Garett (played by writer/director Beau Yotty) it’s a mystery that he just can’t solve. He has too fast though as a big celebration is due in the town soon and the mayor (Mark DeBoer) is putting him under serious pressure.
Suspects come and go, yet the person whose behaviour seems to have changed the most is Garett himself. Could he somehow be linked to the killings and not even know it?
Less An American Werewolf in London and more a meshing of the classic horror, The Wolf Man and the more modern horror, Wolf. Desert Wolf is a uniquely clever combination of classic werewolf horror. Done on a small budget but handled with love and care.
The basis for Beau Yotty’s werewolf is one of the cleverer aspects. Linking it to Native American folklore instead. As silly as this sounds, that made it seem all the more believable. As does the idea of our lead questioning himself and doubting his own sense of reason.
As characters go, Yotty’s sheriff is the highlight but not alone in keeping the tight 88 minutes moving along smoothly. The supporting cast all play their roles well and certainly take the subject material seriously enough. The moments when the dialogue seems more forced and wooden relates the moments when the film slows down.
For the most part the pacing is spot on but it does have the odd dragged out moment. Such as the story heavy middle. Forgivable enough though.
Which brings us to the final thing about Desert Wolf and that is the werewolf itself. For most of the film’s runtime, the attacks are kept close so all we see is claws and arms. A very clever decision as it builds the mystery and makes the full werewolf reveal worthwhile.
Is it the best werewolf you’ll see in horror? No but it totally fits the style of monster the film was going for. A little bit cheesy, a little bit fake but a whole lot of fun.
Just like Desert Wolf overall.
The Final Score - 6.5/10