The Company of Wolves
the company of wolves | neil jordan | angela carter | sarah patterson | angela lansbury | david warner | werewolf | werewolves | arthouse | drama | fantasy | united kingdom | graham crowden | brian glover | kathryn pogson | stephen rea | tusse silberg | micha bergese
Film: The Company of Wolves
Director: Neil Jordan
Writer: Angela Carter and Neil Jordan
Starring: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury and David Warner
This was a film that I was turned on to from the horror movie encyclopedia that I’ve been working through. I didn’t know much about it aside from when I queued up the DVD menu; it looked like it might be similar to the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The synopsis is a teenage girl in a country manor falls asleep while reading a magazine, and has a disturbing dream involving wolves prowling the woods below her bedroom window.
Now I do think this synopsis is a bit misleading. We have a young teen, Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson). She is asleep in a room in the country manor like it states. Her father, David Warner, and mother, Tusee Silberg, return home from shopping. They ask her older sister Alice (Georgia Slowe) to go get her. She is unable to go in the room as Rosaleen has fallen asleep and locked the door. We then go into what appears to be dream, which Alice is fleeing from wolves. This is very nightmarish though as toys we saw in the room are there, just large and coming to life.
We then shift to a funeral as Alice was killed by the wolves. In attendance is Rosaleen’s granny, Angela Lansbury. Rosaleen goes to stay with her and is told stories. She tells her a lot of folk tales that involve what men to trust, about werewolves and other things along with these lines. Also in the village is a boy who is in love with her, Shane Johnstone.
Things take quite a turn though as Rosaleen and this boy go for a walk and they are almost attacked by wolves. They have glowing eyes and are quite spooky. The men in town go on a hunt for them and make a scary discovery about the wolves though. Rosaleen also has an interaction with a mysterious huntsman who falls for her.
Now this film really has a lot of information to unfold and it also is a bit confusing. I decided to go a bit vague here in my recap, because there is a lot allegorical signs in this film. I found this aspect of the film to be quite interesting, but I also found it to be somewhat confusing. From what I read about it, that was part of what writer/director Neil Jordan was going for. He actually said he wanted somewhat of the ‘Chinese box’ narrative where we are in a dream and go deeper into another dream. This is actually something that confused me with Inception.
I do like the issues that the stories delve into. Granny gives some interesting information through them and many old wives tales. The not being able to trust men with unibrows was funny and something that I’ve never heard before. It is interesting that she says Rosaleen is a bit young, because when she encounters the huntsman, she doesn’t see the red flag there and I do believe her granny warns her that she is.
As I said before, the film gave off the Red Riding Hood vibe. Granny makes her the shawl that matches this and there’s a scene during the climax that is presenting this fable. I thought that was pretty solid to be honest, because of the concept behind that as things aren’t what they seem and be careful of those we trust.
The film also has nightmare or dream logic, which I allow to explain some things. There is the deeper issue of some of the aspects we see. The werewolves I believe signify the wildness that is within all of us, very similar to the Id that Freund spoke about. This is especially in males which make up a majority of the werewolves. There is the idea of young love as well, which can be wild and ran into blindly. I think these concepts are interesting and given to us ways you don’t normally see.
This brings me to the pacing of the film. I personally think that it has some slight issues due to the fact that I couldn’t tell what was going on. It is a bit jumbled as we are jumping in and out of stories. I don’t think it ruins the film, but it did make me pay attention to the point and I was still mixing up on things. One thing I found interesting is we periodically go back to seeing Rosaleen sleeping, to keep us aware she is dreaming. The ending didn’t make a lot of sense to me either. I did enjoy the different stories that are presented, but not all of them seemed to fit together though.
Something that did carry the film was the acting. Patterson was solid, especially for someone as young as she was. She deals with some pretty adult concepts and things that she is trying to do. I was impressed to be honest with her. Lansbury I thought was perfect for the grandmother. She looks wise and her ways of conveying them were great. Warner and Silberg were solid as the parents. They are different from each other, but play well together. I thought it was interesting to see Brain Glover as the boy who loves Rosaleen’s father, I know him from An American Werewolf in London. Stephen Rea and Micha Bergese are both in this film and are pretty solid as well. I would also say the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed.
To the effects of the film, they were pretty hit or miss for me to be honest. I did like that they went practical for pretty much everything here. A lot of that was the time period this film came out, where they really didn’t have the computer technology to do some things. Going past that though, the werewolf transformations weren’t great. It has an interesting concept of how they become that way, but it does look like pretty fake at times. I did like that they used real dogs, even though they weren’t actually wolves. The film is shot very well and it really does have the hazy, dreamlike feel.
Now with that said, this film does do some things that I really like. I do like that the brought up all of these old folk tales and wives tales to present a bunch of ideas. There is a bit of an issue with the editing though as I got really confused as to what was going on at times. I do like the allegory behind some of the deeper issues and the concept of these werewolves is solid. I wasn’t a fan of the ending though. The acting is solid and really helps to bring this to life. The effects really hit or miss with the film being shot pretty well. The soundtrack of film didn’t really stand out, but it also doesn’t hurt the film either in my opinion. Overall I’d say this film above average and if this sounds interesting, I’d give it a viewing. I think would technically be arthouse as it really has that fantasy feel.
My Rating: 7 out of 10