Cry Wolf (2005)
Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Starring Jared Padalecki Jon Bon Jovi Julian Morris Lindy Booth

The best horror-mystery since "Scream," "Cry Wolf is a reminder that slashers and teens go together like cigarettes and coffee. You can never get tired of the combination.

Better still is a slasher film that delivers a good mystery, and thanks to an awesome screenplay by director Wadlow and Beau Bauman, "Cry Wolf" delivers a great mystery.

Wadlow is quite young, in his 20s, but he delivers a Hitchcockian thriller here that demonstrates a true understanding of the horror genre. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next. While the first third of the film seems like a direct-to-video mindless teen flick, things pick up quite nicely once the story gets going.

The film opens with British high school misfit (Julian Morris) showing up at an American prep-school as a new student, right after a teenage girl "townie" has been murdered -- shot in the head. He immediately falls for red-haired student hottie Lindy Booth, who introduces him to a clique of students who play a game with one another: They try to guess which one of them is a liar, hence the title of the movie "Cry Wolf."

Naturally, they try to tempt fate by spreading a false rumor around campus about the murder that just took place. Morris forwards a fictitious email that claims the murder was the first of what was a pattern of serial killings around the country, always beginning with an off-campus girl, then spreading to the student body of a prep school.

It isn't long before the pissed off real killer apparently starts tormenting the students, not unlike "I Know What You Did Last Summer." But "Cry Wolf" is much better than that 1990s oldie, because you're not actually sure if it is the real killer on the loose. Is it just the prank going too far? The killer dons a red ski mask and (per their supposedly fictional description) a hunting knife.

It's surprisingly pretty scary given the PG-13 rating, which just goes to show gore isn't necessary in these movies. You don't walk away from it wishing they had released an "unrated cut." You do walk away amazed at Wadlow and Bauman's writing prowess, and Wadlow's directing style, which evoked in me some memories of Amenebar's "Thesis." Wadlow knows how to direct fingernails-in-the-theater-armchair suspense. He even pulls it off in a movie with a male protagonist.

Observe Jon Bon Jovi in a role as a high school teacher. He is actually quite good as well.

Despite its PG-13 rating, "Cry Wolf" is a movie to get excited about. Way better than all the other PG-13 offerings this year. Truly, it's one of the best films this year.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore


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