Friday, 3 October 2014

Wer (2013)

Directed and written by the men responsible for The Devil Inside - THAT should have been my first warning sign. Possibly full of scenes shot to resemble found footage - THAT should have been my second warning sign. The third warning sign? Well, I guess you could take your pick from any of the moments during the first half hour that start to cause your spidey-sense to tingle.

Wer is an attempt to deliver a werewolf movie to the i-phone generation. It mixes faux-news footage with other recordings, while also using a standard shooting style that's so wobbly and irritating it may just as well be found footage. In fact, that stylistic choice is one of the biggest things working against the movie. Well, that and the fact that the leads are pretty annoying. Oh, and also that the story plays out predictably, with a reliance on occasional jump scares and a disappointing lack of anything to make it a truly memorable werewolf movie.

A.J. Cook plays Kate Moore, a lawyer who is defending a man named Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O'Connor) against murder charges. The murder was a particularly vicious one, hard to believe that it was committed by a human being at all, and it seems that Gwynek was arrested on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence. The leading officer on the case, Klaus Pistor (Sebastian Roche), is convinced that they've got their man. Is Gwynek an ill man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or is he capable of such a feral attack?

William Brent Bell needs to be stopped. He seems to be a man allowed to direct movies on the basis that executives don't think movies need actual direction nowadays. Oh no, not at all. This is the marvellous age of movies made on HD cameras and even smartphones. Just point in the direction of your protagonists and forget about anything else.

But that's not how it works, so why can't someone tell Bell that. This particular story isn't told through found footage, not entirely anyway, so why he insists on using that aesthetic for every scene is a stylistic choice that shows, in my opinion, his severe limitations as a film director. The script, which he co-wrote with Matthew Peterman, is also lacking some major amount of polish, but it doesn't help that the cast deliver their lines with little to no enthusiasm, with the sole exception of Roche, who makes the whole experience a bit more bearable.

Cook is poor, Simon Quarterman is worse, Vik Sahay is on a par with Quarterman, and those are the three characters that viewers have to spend most of their time with. Quarterman plays an expert who is helping on the case, and also an ex-partner of Cook, while Sahay is some kind of PR guru that all great lawyers must have. O'Connor isn't bad in the role of Gwynek, mainly thanks to his physical performance.

One or two scenes save the film from being completely unwatchable, but even those scenes are almost spoiled by some horribly inept CGI gore that wouldn't look out of place in a console game. That's a shame because there's some computer work elsewhere that enhances moments of slight physical transformation, decent work that hints at how impressive this material could have been, in more capable hands.

Some people will still find this enjoyable enough. I am hoping to never have to see it again, and I'll be very apprehensive when about to watch any future movies from William Brent Bell.


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