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Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf


A howlingly enjoyable treat.

Rod Lott August 12th, 2011

With “Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf” and its seemingly unconnected storylines, I don’t feel like I watched a movie. I feel like I watched four back-to-back episodes of a miniseries too out-there, too jumbled for prime-time tastes, like Stephen King’s “Kingdom Hospital.”

mediumraw

But I enjoyed the hell out of “Kingdom Hospital,” despite its missteps. Ditto for “Medium Raw.”

In the film by writer/director/actor Andrew Cymek (whose previous effort, 2007’s “Dark Rising,” I did not enjoy), 15 girls have fallen pray to a killer the press have dubbed “The Wolf” for his signature move of leaving the sentence “Are you the woodcutter?” at the site of each of his Little Red Riding Hood-esque victims.

One of those girls was the sister of cop Johnny Morgan (Cymek), who’s never stopped in his pursuit of vengeance. Three years ago, he captured The Wolf — who’s outfitted in cool-looking, lupine-like armor — but lost a partner in the process (John Rhys-Davies, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy). Fast-forward three years and the madman (Greg Dunham, “The Lookout”) is transferred to Parker's Asylum for the Criminally Insane, headed by one Dr. Robert Parker (William B. Davis, “The X-Files”’ Cigarette Smoking Man) and employing Johnny’s estranged wife, Jamie (Brigitte Kingsley, “Dark Rising”), as the resident shrink.

The crazies are introduced far apart from one another, whenever Cymek feels like it, and they comprise quite the bunch of bananas. One woman is a cannibal, while a hulking fellow suffers from a "severe mania to red hue." Meanwhile, another man is, as the screen reads, an "extreme fetishist — feet (toes)." What would happen, “Medium Raw” gets around to wondering, if a power outage were to occur? And all their cages were unlocked? At Christmastime? When there’s a little girl visiting? The subtitle gives you a hint: “Night of the Wolf,” yo.

Thus, the “Silence of the Lambs” wannabe jumps into slasherville to dispatch much of the cast. As messy as its structure is, I ate it up. As predictable as it is, right down to the climax’s diarrhea-of-the-mouth explanation, my attention was with it all the way. As its producer, Kingsley managed to put every penny of its $1 million budget onscreen, particularly with The Wolf’s garb, where the project looks the proverbial “million bucks.” And as an actress, Kingsley is über-appealing, even if her casting as a doc may be as credibility-stretching as “Hatchet” honey Mercedes McNab as a high-powered attorney.

With a sexy, spooky sleekness, “Medium Raw” gets great mileage out of the Red Riding Hood iconography — and it’s much more entertaining than Hollywood’s recent “Red Riding Hood” update, and for $41 million less! —Rod Lott

 
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