DVD Review: Cry_Wolf

Setting itself up with a plausible premise and then destroying it all with an implausible ending, Cry_Wolf digs itself deep without a way to fix everything. The slow beginning is for the better, with plenty of false starts that leave the viewer hanging. It has some great imagery too, but that's not enough to save this one from ending up entirely average.

A group of boarding school students begins this murder mystery. Their prank turns out to be slightly more realistic than they anticipated, and it's up to the school's newest student to figure it all out. The use of cell phones and Instant Messenger makes for a unique premise around the technology.

Without spoiling anything though, the ending doesn't work. The plan set up by the culprit relies on far too many conveniences and luck based situations. This never could have been set up to work like it was drawn.

Before reaching that point, you'll have a good time. There are some genuinely scary moments, and the false scares lead you down the wrong path like they should. The final few minutes before everything unravels offer plenty of action in a tension filled sequence that almost saves the film. The performances also work, and from such a young cast, it's impressive work.

What matters is what your final thoughts are as you walk away from a film. The last thing in Cry_Wolf is that unbelievably impossible ending. You forget all the great work that came before it, and that makes this one a disappointment because of one scene. (*** out of *****)

Color and sharpness are the strong suits for this DVD transfer. It's beautiful to look at most of the time. Darker scenes suffer from some heavy grain, and you can spot a bit of compression in spots. It's nothing severe, and the overall clarity more than makes up for any complaints. (****)

Only a few moments offer any chance for surround work. This 5.1 mix stays almost exclusive for the front channels. There's only minor separation there. Dialogue is clear, and that's what matters in Cry_Wolf. (***)

This is the "unrated" version of this film. What that means is a few extra shots of blood during the murders that barely even register (it comes out to about one extra minute total). Given that this was a PG-13 to begin with, releasing an unrated cut ends up being nothing more than a marketing tool.

Extras are plentiful on this disc compared to the PG-13 version. Three extensive deleted scenes run around 13-minutes, and offer optional commentary as does the film itself. The explanation for the deletions is excellent from director Jeff Wadlow, writer Beau Bauman, and producer Seth Gordon. They go beyond the usual "it didn't work." There's an alternate take for one scene that's separate from the deletions. It's a critical scene from early in the film and this version of it doesn't work.

Fourteen minutes of casting footage is included from most of the cast. This also features commentary as to why everyone was chosen for their respective roles. A behind-the-scenes feature follows lead actor Julian Morris around the set. This is a great look at filming this movie and it should be longer than twelve minutes. There's a bunch of trivia too.

This unrated DVD also features two short films from the director, including the excellent Tower of Babble. This is probably better than the main feature, with three stories featuring the same dialogue, but with entirely different meanings given the situations. The other film is a five minute short called Manual Labor. (****)

It's a real shock when Cry_Wolf comes to an end. You're engrossed up to that point. It's a great thriller all the way through, and then the final few words are spoken and the entire thing falls apart. All of the effort put forth to involve the audience is wasted and that's inexcusable.

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