'Brotherhood of the Wolf' Review: How Do You Say "Terrible" in French?
Brotherhood of the Wolf was a film I'd wanted to see for a long time, and when I found out I had the opportunity to review it for Monster Movie month, I was pretty excited. Unfortunately for me, this loose adaptation of the tale of the "Beast of Gévaudan" is nothing short of abysmal. A historical fiction piece set against the French Revolution with a mysterious man eating wolf? How can you mess that up? The answer is: quite easily. Brotherhood of the Wolf is plodding, nonsensical, and mostly dull. Full disclosure, I watched the dubbed version, so I probably lost a little bit from the individual performances.
The film follows royal naturalist Grégoire de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and Iroquois survivor Mani (Mark Dasascos) as they search the French wilderness for a wild beast that is slaughtering citizens in the country. The film is split into two distinct halves. The first half of the film is basically a historical drama with the backdrop of France and occasional mention of the beast. The second half tries to turn into an action film, with some admittedly cool fight sequences, but the narrative twists are so absurd and unearned that I could not wait for the movie to end. During their search, they run into Jean-François de Morangias (Vincent Cassel) and his sister (who somehow is a love interest to Fronsac despite him doing nothing but staring at her half of the film) as they assist in the hunt. There are other characters who have no personality and all blur together as "random Frenchman" to the viewer.
The acting is adequate, none of the performances are standout, and the action scenes with Mani are pretty visceral, with some violent kills and slick choreography. However, there is way too liberal use of slow motion that looks more like the film is skipping than a stylistic choice. Christopher Gans (who also directed Silent Hill) ruins almost every of his action scenes with these gratuitous over use and doesn't really add much a visual flair to the film.
The film builds up the titular beast as something not of this world, and the first few times it is revealed to us, it actually has a pretty cool design. However, once the reveal of who controls it and what the beast truly is, the film's narrative spirals out of control. Things happen just to happen, the villain's motives are paper thin, and some items are hidden from other characters for no particular reason other than shock value. Plus, the film commits the cardinal sin of cinema by being boring. For a movie about hunting down a beast, half of the film is spent talking in ballrooms. I haven't even touched on Monica Bellucci's mystical prostitute character, who is another love interest for Fronsac, with scenes that don't make any sense, but she exists to perform a specific function at the end of the film.
The scattershot storytelling, disjointed narrative, and mostly uninteresting characters prevent Brotherhood of the Wolf from existing as even adequate entertainment. If you are into costume design, you may find something worth watching, but for the rest of us, please never watch this abomination. The film is the true monster.
Final Say: Skip It