By Shawn McKenzie 09/18/2005
If you are going to play with fire, you are going to get hurt. That’s what I took from Cry_Wolf (the underscore is on purpose), an updated version of Aesop’s fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The movie has a good idea, but with its rating being PG-13, it is executed poorly.
The movie starts with a girl named Becky Roberts (Erica Yates) running through a forest, trying to get away from a killer who is chasing her. She hides, but she is spotted when the killer calls Becky’s cell with his cell. The killer then shoots and kills her. We then switch over to the story of a British transfer student named Owen Matthews (Julian Morris.) He is a new student at a private boarding school called Westlake Preparatory Academy after apparently having one too many problems with discipline at other schools. His emotionally distant father Charles (Gary Cole), whom never takes Owen’s calls, has pulled some strings to get Own into Westlake, and he hopes that his son won’t screw it up this time. The first student Owen sees is Dodger Allen (Lindy Booth), who was named so by her mother from one of Charles Dickens’ most famous characters, The Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist. She is a very attractive redhead, and the two flirt with one another. The next person Owen meets is Tom (Jared Padalecki), his new roommate. That night, Tom invites Owen to a chapel to play a game of wolf and sheep where the people playing must determine who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. Dodger runs the game by collecting money from the other participants and then choosing someone to be “the wolf”…the one who is telling the lie. She secretly marks the wolf with a red pen, and the other “sheep” have to accuse the others of being the wolf. If the wolf makes it to the end of the game, that person will win the money. If the wolf doesn’t make it, the sheep will win the money. Aside from Owen, Dodger, and Tom, the other players are: Randall (Jesse Janzen), a pierced and tattooed punk; Lewis (Paul James), a black actor with dreads; Mercedes (Sandra McCoy), Lewis’s narcissistic girlfriend; Graham (Ethan Cohn), who is overweight; and Regina (Kristy Wu), an aspiring effects artist. Dodger chooses Owen to be the wolf, and at the end of the game, Graham quits and Owen insults and ticks off the rest of the people. The next day, the police find Becky’s body, and Dodger and Owen decide to have some fun by making the group the wolves and the rest of the campus the sheep. They start a rumor by pretending that Becky’s killer is on campus and that he will strike again. They give him a physical description consisting of an orange ski mask, a camouflage jacket, and a serrated knife. They also give a detailed description of how the killer will off each of the people in their group. They send an all-campus email to everyone spreading the rumor. Journalism teacher Rich Walker (Jon Bon Jovi) sees through the lie though, and he tries to lecture Owen about the consequences of spreading such rumors. Owen starts receiving threatening instant messages not long after, which he thinks is either Tom or Dodger at first. Soon Randall goes missing, and a stranger whose description matches the one of the killer that they came up with during the rumor prank stalks the others. When the rumor details start coming true, the survivors fight to avoid being slain by the serial killer.
I thought that director Jeff Wadlow and his co-script writer Beau Bauman came up with a good idea in updating the Aesop fable, but it evolved into a limp Scream rip-off. If they were going to make a serial killer horror movie, couldn’t they have made it R-rated? I realize that they wanted to bring in the teenage crowd, but this movie won’t attract them. I kept thinking that these kids were just asking for what they got, and that they were stupid to make up a rumor about a serial killer.
As far as the acting goes, it was okay. I’ve never heard of Morris, but he did his job. Booth has been in many productions, some of which I’ve actually seen, but I apparently don’t remember her very well. Bon Jovi did a decent job for a rock star (he’s been in several movies, but mostly in minor roles.) I’m sorry, but I am still picturing Padalecki as Dean from the WB’s “The Gilmore Girls.” Finally, even though his role was minor, I have to mention the performance of Cole. When they cast British actor Morris in the lead, they had to make his dad British. American actor Cole is probably best known for his role as Mike Brady in the Brady Bunch movies. His accent was so fake that it was hard to take him seriously. He isn’t exactly Renée Zellweger from the Bridget Jones movies.
Cry_Wolf is the movie that cried foul. Amazingly, it was made for an estimated $1 million. I’d be lying if I told you that I liked it, but I’d also be telling you a fib if I said that I thought that it was the worst movie of the year. I gave it an average rating for the story idea and some passable performances, but I think that the audience for this movie will see through this lie.
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