Director: Justin Price
Cast: Stasi Esper, Eric Roberts, Khu, Billy Blanks, Matthew Simmons, Cameron White
Running Time: 85 minutes
Writer/Director Justin Price has envisioned a new kind of werewolf in DARK MOON RISING. The werewolves that haunt the screen are not limited to just shifting from man to wolf and back again. These wolves can control the weather, infect their victims with venom, and have numerous other abilities that make them deadly. However, aside from unique werewolves, DARK MOON RISING has nothing going for it.
One of the immediate problems with DARK MOON RISING is that the plot is hard to root out. The werewolf pack is looking for a girl, Dawn, but the audience is never told why. The script dances around Dawn’s importance never really nailing down just what it is the wolf pack needs from her. Toward the end of the film, Dawn says she’s “the Apex.” What that means is a mystery. It’s not even clear that Dawn is a werewolf, though one can assume she is based on her strength and speed. Another character, who is the true focus of the movie, Chace (Cameron White), might also be a werewolf. Or he might be destined to be a werewolf hunter, as he’s co-opted by a character named Danse and her father, Henrick (Eric Roberts) to join them in hunting werewolves.
Many of the character interactions are nonsense. Most of the time, it feels like the characters are reading from different scripts as more than half of the things they say to each other don’t seem related. The actors also have a bad habit of mumbling their lines, making the dialogue hard to hear. Complicating this problem is poor sound editing. Many times, the dialogue is drowned out by music or background noises. Even worse, there are times when the camera is focused on the back of a speaking character’s head. It’s possible crucial plot points are lost simply due to poor sound and bad acting.
There are other features of the movie that are questionable. Almost every character is granted an internal monologue, even characters that show up on screen for a single scene and are never seen again. It’s not clear why this choice is made since the internal monologue doesn’t offer anything to the film. The monologue of every character could be dropped and the film would be no different.
A few scenes in the movie seem out-of-place for their lack of explanation. The wolf pack makes a habit of terrorizing party goers. They attack a group of kids partying in the woods and later a group of dancers at a club. The scenes could be used to further explain the aims of the pack searching for Dawn, why they want her, where she is, how they can find her, but instead, they seem to kill and terrorize people for the fun of it (which isn’t exactly cause for complaint, but with a plot that’s choppy, these scenes could have furthered the audience’s understanding).
This reviewer has a soft spot for werewolf movies, but DARK MOON RISING lacks serious bite.
DARK MOON RISING is released on VOD in the US August 4.