Sometimes, as a horror movie fan of a certain age, it starts to feel like there’s nothing new under the sun. That is, once you’ve run through the classics and gotten into the deep cuts, there’s a certain point at which you’re stuck with the dregs, scouring Netflix or Amazon Prime for anything that looks like it might be kinda good, but usually isn’t.
Every once in a while, though, you chance upon a movie you’ve never heard of before, give it a shot and find yourself pleasantly surprised. Such was the case with Wolf Girl, a slight-yet-endearing 2001 Canadian-Romanian co-production with an unusual cast and just enough style to set it apart.
The story, about Tara, a wolf girl (Victoria Shanchez) in a carnival sideshow who befriends the nerdy son of a depilatory-obsessed scientist and starts mainlining a formula that makes her hair fall out but also may make her more violent, is probably best left under-interrogated, and is mostly secondary to the carnival atmosphere that is the film’s main focus.
Taking its cue from Tod Browning’s Freaks, Wolf Girl portrays the sideshow as a tight knit and supportive community, while “normal people” are embodied by a group of teenage bullies who push things to far in their torment of Tara and face the brunt of her vengeance as the serum escalates her violent tendencies. Delightfully, the carnival is led by Tim Curry and includes Grace Jones as a half-man-half-woman, and both have multiple musical numbers (ribald musical numbers, no less).
Wolf Girl may not be especially scary or offer anything too new and exciting, but it’s watchable and endearing and wholly within the spirit of the Halloween season. There are worse things you can do with 90 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, y’know?