“Eight unsuspecting high school seniors at a posh boarding school, who delight themselves on playing games of lies, come face-to-face with terror and learn that nobody believes a liar – even when they’re telling the truth.”

Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jeff Wadlow, Beau Bauman
Staring: Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Gary Cole
Release Date: September 16, 2005

There is something comforting about mid-to-late 2000s horror movies. I can not pinpoint an exact reason why. Maybe it is the formulaic plot or the predictable characters. Maybe it is the desperate need to keep these movies PG-13 for the high school audiences. Maybe it reminds me of a time when I was easier to please with movies. Regardless, I stepped back into the pool of comfort with Cry Wolf (2005).

Owen (Julian Morris) is a newcomer to a prep boarding school and upon walking onto campus he meets Dodger (Lindy Booth). She introduces him to her group of friends, and soon a group of eight students are thrown into a horror story of their own making. Owen, with the help of Dodger and the entire friend group, create a fictional serial killer based solely off of one murder that happened nearby the school. A man in cameo, wearing an orange ski mask with a knife is going to kill students, and there was nothing anyone could do about.

When friends begin disappearing and mysterious IMs start coming into Owen’s computer, all this fake smoke he and his friends have been throwing starts to feel like real fire and brimstone. Accusations are thrown by everyone like individuals in a dodgeball match. Nobody is trust anyone, and relationships are getting frayed. It all comes to a head on Halloween night, when Owen comes face-to-face with the scary story he helped create.

Cry Wolf takes place in a world that that audiences love to hate. Pretentious high schoolers acting entitled and watching their world crumble around them. It is even sweeter when it destroyed by their own actions. That may be why I connect with these type of movies as comfort films; in the 2000s I was in middle school and high school, so this universe was just within my grasp.

The relationship that shapes the main spinning wheel of Cry Wolf is that between Owen and Dodger. It is an sensualized high school romance with playful chasing, ogling stares, and scattered scantily clothed scenes. All of hope that young love promises is dashed when Owen sees Dodger kissing their journalism teacher, Mr. Walker…WHO IS PLAYED BY JON BON JOVI! No, I am not making this up.

Owen loses trust with everything he knows and the stress of the situation is getting to him. His roommate Tom (Jared Padalecki) had his side of the room tossed, his friend Randall (Jesse Janzen) was missing and all lines of trust have been snipped. All answers come out in the final 20 minutes where Owen gathers all the grumbled friends for a final game where the only winner is supposed to be the truth. As it turns out, there is more death and mistrust to be had, and the only question is what sheep will be crying wolf.

Lindy Booth gives the best performance in Cry Wolf. Booth is able to combine sexiness, mystery and danger with the right quotients. She has the lingering eyes and the just high enough skirt to be the lustful desire for any high school boy in any teen scream movie this style. I have not seen a lot of what Booth has done since Cry Wolf, but it was not the last time she worked with director Jeff Wadlow.

Cry Wolf was Wadlow’s first major motion picture and it set him up for a short string of success in the years following. Following Cry Wolf he made Never Back Down (2008), which was another popular movie for my high school classmates and I. Then after that he made Kick-Ass 2 (2013), which Booth rejoined him on.

Unfortunately for Wadlow, his movie success as a director has taken a hit since 2013. Truth Or Dare was another attempt at PG-13 horror in 2018, and he again tried to recapture it in 2020 with Fantasy Island (2020). The next movie he is putting out is Boo! which takes place around Halloween and a teenage girl, so it appears he is sticking to some sort of formula.

Cry Wolf tries so, so hard to stick to it’s PG-13 rating. There are the record-scratch like flashbacks and no actual visual shots of the killings. It wanted to be just violent enough to enthrall the targeted ages, but not gruesome enough where parents could say “no way, never.”

Someone who is an expect at the 2000s bad horror? Mr. Jared Padalecki. Cry Wolf and House Of Wax (2005) in the same year followed by Friday The 13th (2009) later in the decade. This all came while he was getting his television stardom with Supernatural. The man knew the lane of popularity of the time.

This is far more depth than I expected from Cry Wolf, but it again spoke to me in all of its cliché and style. If you want a movie that fits directly into the time, then Cry Wolf is worth a mind-numbing watch. It won’t any many or anyone’s favorite lists, but it does last the testament of time as a rusty time capsule.

STANKO RATING: C (2.5/5 Stars)

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