The Beast Within
Release Date: February 12, 2010
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 125 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/General Electric
Director: Joe Johnston
Executive Producer: Bill Carrarro and Ryan Kavanaugh
Address Comments To:Jeffrey R. Immelt, Chairman/CEO, General Electric
Jeff Zucker, President/CEO, NBC Universal
Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Adam Fogelson, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
THE WOLFMAN is a new attempt to revive the Wolf Man, the classic Universal Pictures monster played to such wonderful effect by Lon Chaney, Jr., the son of one of the biggest stars of silent movies. Despite very horrific violence, the movie succeeds because, from the very start, it plays on the classic horror movie conventions established by Universal in the 1930s and 40s. From the very beginning, the movie asks the question, Where does the Beast begin and the Human end?
Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a traveling actor who gets a letter from Gwen, the fiancé of his brother, Ben. Gwen asks Lawrence to come home to the family mansion on the English moors, to help find Ben, who is missing.
When Lawrence arrives home to greet his kindly but solitary father, he finds Ben has been murdered, torn savagely apart by a large vicious animal of some kind, or by a lunatic trying to fake an animal attack. Local gypsies are implicated in the attack, so Lawrence goes to talk with them one night. A mob from the local village also wants to confront the gypsies, but when they do, a large wolf of some kind decimates the mob and the gypsy encampment. During the melee, Lawrence tries to shoot the beast dead, but gets bitten instead.
Recovering from his wounds, with Gwen playing nurse, Lawrence begins to have troubling visions and even more troubling emotions. Soon, the full moon will come and “even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers at night” will not be safe from the Wolfman’s bite.
THE WOLFMAN has atmosphere galore. It also has blood and gore galore. Even so, it is the deeper themes in the movie that should resonate more with moviegoers.
First of all, the movie shows the sinful nature of man by explicitly stating that every man has a beast within his nature waiting to be unloosed. Thus, the end of the movie asks where does the one begin and the other end? Also, as Lawrence’s father tells him, “The Beast will have its day.”
Secondly, the movie also shows the biblical notion that the sins of a father will be visited upon the children. Thus, the movie’s second half reveals that Lawrence and his father are harboring a terrible family secret that will tear them apart, literally.
The movie sprinkles these themes with a few positive references to Christianity and prayer. For instance, at one important point, Lawrence crosses himself. Despite this, the local vicar shows no sympathy for Lawrence’s plight, saying that God has forsaken Lawrence. Gwen, however, holds out hope that her love may be able to save Lawrence.
All in all, THE WOLFMAN is a good modern-day re-telling of Universal’s original 1941 movie. It is very scary but also very gory in parts. Hence, it has been given an R rating. There are also scenes set in an insane asylum where inmates are dunked in very cold, icy water, and a scene where Lawrence is given electric shock therapy. The scary graphic violence and asylum scenes require extreme caution for media-wise viewers. This is not your grandfather’s WOLF MAN movie. Modern special effects have been used with great effect to make this one much more intense and disturbing. The acting is good, and the music is even better, though a bit loud.
THE WOLFMAN is a good re-telling of Universal’s original movie. It is very scary but also very gory. Hence, it has an R rating. Despite the violence, the movie shows the sinful nature of man by stating explicitly that every man has a beast within his nature waiting to be unloosed. As Lawrence’s father says, “The Beast will have its day.” Extreme caution is required, however, for THE WOLFMAN.