Wolfen (1981) - Michael Wadleigh
An eco-political horror film set in early 1980s New York City, Michael Wadleigh's Wolfen is a violent, dirty, cynical thriller; a film which isn't afraid to fully embrace the grimy, gritty, New York aesthetic of the time period in telling its tale of a killer wolf on the loose. Incorporating native american mysticism into the when-nature-attacks archetype, Wolfen examines the imperialistic nature which humanity has on its environment, with the malevolent force causing carnage in this film being a reaction to man's constant advances. More amusing than thrilling, Wolfen follows a hard-nosed New York detective as he navigates the dilapidated and impoverished under-belly of New York City, attempting to find the thing responsible for a string of violent, brutal deaths. Wolfen presents New York City as a place of abject poverty, dilapidated, and desecrated by drugs and crime. Blunt and peurile in its denoucement, Wolfen is aided by assured direction. Leaning into the voyeuristic nature of a predator, Wolfen features a heavy dose of point-of-view photography from the wolf's perspective- the camera lurks in the shadows, mercilessly stalking the men who've breached the wolves' habitats with a slow, cold resolve. This wolf's vision given via the filmmaker's lens accentuates the stakes of the violence in this story, a juxtaposition with the voyeurism intrinsic within the film-going experience. With seedy late 70s/early 80s New York City serving as the perfect backdrop, Wolfen is a relatively memorable addition to the killer animal subgenre, due to having a unique vision for a common eco-political message.
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