When a young woman is found dead, it looks as though she was attacked by wild dogs. But the autopsy suggests her killer was more human (and left-handed, to boot). And after a couple more killings and a few superstitious comments, the sheriff starts to wonder if a werewolf might be the cause. With the help of a wealthy female friend, Louise Rodanthe (Barbara Rush, who appears to be channeling Blanche from The Golden Girls in her speech and mannerisms) he tries to work out the true identity of the 'lukaru'.
To be fair, the copy of the film I saw was slightly blurry with patchy sound quality (unless crackling fire is supposed to be deafeningly loud compared to everything else). So it wasn't on to a good start with me. However, setting the story in the Louisiana swamps makes the movie interesting to look at (with some beautiful buildings) and it sits well with the Bayou folklore and legends.
The local community is small, and contains some intriguing characters. As well as the sheriff and Louise, we have a dallying doctor and his incredibly high waisted white trousers; a delirious old man who rambles in some kind of French that people can't understand and is the only one who knows what's going on; a nurse who seems to spend most of her time staring wistfully out of the window; and so on. Most of the acting performances are decent, and the characters are fairly likable on the whole. And I liked the idea of a close-nit community giving the sheriff the dilemma that the killer might actually be one of the people he knows well.
The biggest problem is the first half of the film, which is heavy on dialogue and light on action, and therefore very slow. I know this is intentional to set up the story and establish the characters, but it was hard to stop my attention wandering. In the second half, things pick up a bit, and there are a few scenes which are genuinely tense. There is a particularly fun 'monster-cam' sequence which shows the prowling killer's point of view accompanied by the sound of heavy breathing, which I would have liked to see more of.
Moon Of The Wolf is a made-for-TV movie, so any violence takes place just out of shot. There is no gore, no nudity, and no fruity language here, and I don't have a problem with any of that. What I do have an issue with, is the werewolf itself. Oh dear. Imagine a very cheap 1950s b-movie. Or perhaps an amateur dramatics production of the musical, Cats. It's basically a man with fur stuck on his face and hands. And I'd probably be howling too, if I had to wear the eye-wateringly tight trousers he does.
Once the film's credibility had been dented by the hairy horror reducing me to laughter, it all kind of fell apart for me. The revelation of the killer's identity was not much of a surprise, and I found the climactic scenes to be a little unconvincing.
Of course, the film had certain limitations, being a TV movie, possibly with a low budget. And as I mentioned before, I wonder if the poor quality copy I watched may have slightly influenced my views. It's not a bad film, and it's hard to dislike Moon Of The Wolf, but I did find it a bit too slow and 'talky' to hook me. It felt more like an afternoon TV drama than a horror movie. So I can only give it 2/5.
* This has been written for The Moon Is A Dead World's "Viewer Vomit" challenge - which gathers reviews from different writers about the same film. Check out what they, and other reviewers, have said about this movie at http://www.themoonisadeadworld.net/