Monday, May 06, 2013

"Medium Raw" leads to "Night of the Wolf": a young filmmaker's personal trip to hell and to redemption (and a warning about the power grid)

The Canadian horror thriller “Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf”  (2010) is part a compendium of the genre, and part character study of a rookie cop, Johnny Moran, played by writer and director Andrew Cymek.  The filmmaker, who is quite young, attractive, and charismatic certainly makes this his film. 
One the “presentation layer”, the film seems like a collage of “Silence of the Lambs” with “Shutter Island”.  But there is a back story:  Johnny goes to an Ontario insane asylum to take out his little sister’s killer.  He feels it is his family duty.

The asylum is run by old codger Robert Parker (William Davis – and this is not “Richard Parker” from Pi, but rather a man who puts on steel gear right out of “The Man with the Iron Mask” to become a counter-wolf himself.

Parker controls his “patients” with electric collars, and their use has led to the faces and necks of all of them getting disfigured.  Johnny’s journey (along with girl  friend and fellow cops) takes through a menagerie, including at least one female cannibal.

Fifty-two minutes into the film there is a sudden power failure, which allows the “Wolf” to take control of things.  It seems as though the prison’s power system is controlled by a very hackable computer – or is there an element here of something like radio frequency electromagnetic pulse? 

Gradually, though, the film settles into being mainly about Johnny’s own journey, and an odd test of his own character. As an alternate ending shows, there is a real question as to whether he should make it.
The film was originally produced for Canadian television, but an expanded version as film (110 minutes) comes from  (Netflix DVD) Anchor Bay (and apparently Fantastic Films for theatrical release).  The original script (with all the deleted scenes and extensions) was quite long, maybe 130 minutes, and Cymek was very serious about making this big.
There film uses sepia and muted colors in many scenes, and the snow in the outdoor scenes before the asylum looks like falling Kleenex --- deliberately.
Cymek likes intricate plotting and layering.  He probably would relate to my own “Do Ask Do Tell” sci-fi setting screenplay.  

Picture: mine, from "New Canada" (Quebec), Busch Gardens

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