March 22, 2019 She Wolf (Movie Review)
Out of Argentina, Tamae Garateguy is a bold female filmmaker who looks to push the envelop. That said, her 2013 film, She Wolf, originally titled Mujer lobo, is finally making its way to the North America region follow its release on DVD Tuesday, March 19, 2019 through Omnibus Entertainment/Film Movement. Known for other films including 2015’s All Night Long and 2017’s Until You Untie Me, Garateguy’s She Wolf follows Mónica Lairana (Evita 1996, The Bed 2018) as the titular ‘She Wolf,’ a monstrous killer who ends up in more trouble than she can fathom when she picks the wrong victim one day…
Originally shown in the USA at Austin Fantastic Fest in 2013, but never finding distribution until now, it could easily be said that She Wolf is more interesting than it is good, and it is easy to see why. In a lot of ways, it can be the ultimate example of style over substance – the visuals are hardly grounded in realism while the mechanics of the plot can be overly repetitive. There is a bit more to it than that – there is real substance in this film, and it comes to it by how intelligently it plays both side of its own equation.
She Wolf manages to exist as both a high-brow European art-house piece, and a low-brow Horror flick. There are other films that achieve this, but what She Wolf does that is particularly special is manage to walk the line between both these forms without feeling like a specific parody of either one. It certainly has some fun with how gaudy and in love with itself said high-brow European fare can be, but it does that while also acting as a very effective example of it, taking the art form’s strengths and using them to bring out shades of the classic creature flick that other films just would not be able to access.
Interestingly, it should however be noted that despite the manner in which this film mimics a distinctly European style and aesthetic, it is actually a South American film – it was produced, directed (and is set within ) Argentina, where Garateguy originally hails from.
Fair warning here however: this is an intensely sexual film. There will be no doubt some who charge that with the frequency and intensity of the sex scenes on display this should be labelled a somewhat tasteful pornographic film rather than a traditional film per se, but the thought and intent that is clearly present in each scene is in opposition to this argument. Basically: this does have a real plot, and it’s a lot more than just being in service to a bunch of sex scenes. The sex scenes here are a reflection of the plot, and greatly contribute to it – not just in terms of raw content or context, but in how the sex scenes are used to ratchet up the tension for the only thing that really matters: the characters.
In its own way, She Wolf is definitely a character study at its most fundamental. The plot is relatively simple, which leaves room for the things for the audience to focus on the people involved instead. The performances are well done, and nobody particularly steps on the film’s feet throughout its run time. Additionally, there is a level of naturalism that’s present throughout most of the nude scenes that greatly adds to the film’s cumulative impact – strangely, despite the very clear stylized presentation and supernatural subject matter, the characters in this film can end up feeling much more real than in similar films that are presented much more realistically.
Although this will only be relevant to English-speaking audiences, the fact that the characters are not speaking in English does help add to the foreboding tone of the piece. Having the audience at just a bit of a remove from the characters is hugely effective – it gives everything an air of mystery that ties in nicely with the film’s general tone.
At the end of the day, how much you enjoy She Wolf is going to come down to how much you like the idea of low-brow concepts and high-brow aesthetics smashed together in a fun genre cocktail. At the very least, it’s likely to be unlike most other films you see this year – and in this media environment that is often recommendation enough. That is why Cryptic Rock gives She Wolf 3.5 out of 5 stars.