CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
It's always a nice surprise to scan the cinema listings every week and spot a film which you've never heard of, and which seems to have appeared from nowhere, with no posters, teaser trailers or adverts on the sides of buses. Even better when it's a horror movie. It's a wonderful thing, sadly too rare in an age of marketing saturation (the teaser posters for the new Wonder Woman movie have been up for ages already and the film is still a full nine months away: seriously, even babies don't take this long to arrive), to see a film totally cold: but it's a pity, however, when the film itself actually turns out not to be very good and sadly this new low-budget British werewolf movie just doesn't deliver.
It's A.D. 150 and a squad of Roman soldiers are on a mission deep in the empty wilds of the hairy British North to find their missing comrades and to convey a message of peace to the Pict leaders. But they soon realise that some kind of beast is tracking and hunting them through the forests: savagely dismembered corpses, mysterious animal tracks, and brutal attacks by barely glimpsed predators...
Wolf is essentially a war movie: a tale of soldiers on a mission that doesn't stick to the plan, with characters ranging from death-or-glory warriors to thoughtful tacticians to simple cowards. It's also pleasingly diverse: the film mixes genders and races rather than sticking with the traditional idea of a band of Roman soldiers as a bunch of white guys. But the dialogue is mostly pretty awful (though there is a nice throwaway line suggesting that the same fate befell the famously lost Ninth Legion) and, crucially for a monster movie, the monsters themselves are hardly seen, mostly running past the camera and slightly out of focus (and when they are briefly visible they appear to been fitted with Jim Dale's false teeth from Carry On Screaming).
It's not the worst film to hit UK cinemas this year. And as werewolf movies go it's certainly better than at least three of the Howling sequels (four if you count the abysmal Reborn): the low budget means a limited cast and it doesn't have ambitions it can never fulfil. But in the end it's just not very interesting and fans of British lycanthrope cinema will probably get more fun out of something like Paul Hyett's train-bound Howl. Kudos for getting it into UK multiplex chain cinemas at all, though.