**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no character deaths, major reveals, or plot twists**
Troubled teen Owen Matthews (Julian Morris) receives one last shot at redemption, when his powerful father, Charles (Gary Cole) pulls some strings for Owen’s acceptance into Westlake Preparatory Academy, an excusive and upscale private school for teenagers.
Upon his arrival, Owen is invited into a new circle of friends by Dodger (Lindy Booth) and his new roommate Tom (Jared Padalecki). During a night in the campus’ chapel, Owen meets Mercedes (Sandra McCoy), her boyfriend, Lewis (Paul James), Randall (Jesse Janzen), Regina (Kristy Wu), and Graham (Ethan Cohn). Owen is invited to play a lying game, where Dodger puts The Wolf against the sheeps. The object of the game? Lie your way into a cash prize, and the last one standing is declared the winner.
Bored and looking for a chance to spice things up, Dodger, with the help of everyone in the group, decides to bring The Wolf to life as a serial killer. But some harmless fun takes a turn for the worst, when a teacher on campus named Mr. Walker (Jon Bon Jovi) suspects something fishy about the game. Using the backstory of a real life local murder to build The Wolf‘s mystique as a killer, the game sends the entire campus into a frenzy, leading to one crucial question: Is The Wolf real?
You'll see the usual set of characters in a teen style slasher film here. Dodger is the seemingly innocent sweetheart, Tom is the cocky pretty boy/jerk, Randall is the “bad boy,” Mercedes is the attractive and clueless airhead, and Lewis is the dopey boyfriend. Owen? He’s the new kid, who tries too hard to fit in, and in the end, his never ending quest for acceptance costs him, big time.
I’ll give the nod to Lindy Booth for the best performance, and although it doesn’t last long, Booth is able to showcase a believable devious side to Dodger character. Morris is okay in the leading role, but his character has a few head shaking moments as this gullible doofus, and without Booth to prop him up, I can’t picture Morris maintaining serviceable status as the leading man. Padalecki and Wu are good for a few cheap laughs, and Janzen doesn’t receive a significant amount of screen time. Jon Bon Jovi is solid as Mr. Walker. Throughout the movie, Bon Jovi is convincing as a walking quandary, because you’re never sure of Mr. Walker’s true intentions and the motivations for his allegiances.
Cry Wolf constantly toys with the audience during the chaos to find The Wolf. Is The Wolf real or not? It’s the one question I had trouble answering during my first viewing of Cry Wolf. For me, Cry Wolf didn’t disappoint during the double swerve at the end.
Is Cry Wolf perfect? No. No it’s not. As I said before, you’ll see a set of generic slasher characters here, and Cry Wolf’s replay technique annoys me to no end. Throughout the movie, Cry Wolf constantly replays footage for the murders involving certain participants in the game. You’ll see the footage for the first time after the group comes to a final decision on how everyone involved is supposed to die. As the murders happen, Cry Wolf replays the same footage in the brainstorming scene over and over again. Yeah, I get the point of splicing the “This is how it happens” footage with real time events, because this technique is supposed to pull a shocking reaction out of the audience. After all, you’re seeing the nightmare come to life before your very eyes. Problem is, the footage is not shocking anymore after the first time, and after a while, the replays feel unnecessary, lazy, random, and annoying.
Still, Cry Wolf keeps you guessing until the very end with a back and forth game of whodunit, and the constant teasing is more than capable of keeping you on edge, as Cry Wolf bounces between harmless hoax territory and the possibility of a real killer stalking everyone.
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