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Fantastic Fest Review: ANOTHER WOLFCOP

another-wolfcopCult cinema is the most unique, twisted and enjoyable types of film in a theatrical experience. Films that have a distinctive heart,  and puts that heart above the price tag, usually tend to resonate on a much deeper level with fans, above the watered-down tentpoles of the year. Following that heart-filled approach to cult cinema is director Lowell Dean’s ANOTHER WOLFCOP, a sequel to his wildly popular WOLFCOP. Blending the aspects of a sympathetic underdog of a lead character, cursed with addictions of all kinds and adding in smart practical FX and animal magnetism, Dean’s follow up to the 2014 WOLFCOP is  a howl of a good time and worth the wait.

Staying true to the influences, resources and vision that got him the recognition of fans, peers and critics alike, Dean picks up the storyline right from where the first WOLFCOP left off. It’s holidays and the city is back to the normal dysfunction where we left off in the first film, thanks to Officer Lou Garou (Leo Fafard) and Officer Tina (Amy Matysio). Tina has new officers to mold and continues the painstaking task of attempting to keep Wolfcop in line. As the film opens, Wolfcop serves his brand of justice by stopping a delivery truck that has been hijacked by group of scumbags (lookout for a fun cameo).  This lethal use of the law may or may not have been connected to business man Mr. Sydney Swallows, played by Yannick Bisson. Swallows has a dark agenda and a plan to bring his success to the masses by reopening the Darkstar Brewery and selling Chicken Milk Beer to the masses. As the opening of the brewery grows near, Swallows and his team of villainous associates attempt to stop those who dare attempt to thwart Swallows’ plan including your hero and mine, the Canadian Wolfcop. Between having sex with other beastly allies, going on drinking binges, kicking ass in hockey fights, being reunited with the past friends and facing off against a SHOCK WAVES style monster, Wolfcop must put his ego and demons aside in a battle for the very lives of the town and more.

Dean has done something very few filmmakers could accomplish, in succeeding in creating a quality sequel and greatly evolving as a filmmaker. While ANOTHER WOLFCOP returns to its roots in terms of animalistic sexuality, violence, twisted humor, kick ass FX/makeup that fuels the beast within this narrative, we see that Dean as a writer has found more trust in the characters he previously created, as well as giving them freedom to continue to develop. This elevates the overall material and shows that even as bad ass and memorable the character of Wolfcop is, Dean does not have to have him be the whole focus as structured in the first film. Characters like Tina and Willie (played by Jonathan Cherry) are given room to further develop their characters and show their talent and comedic chops in the second film, as we see the direction head towards more of an ensemble piece, rather than keeping the sole focus on Garou. As part of the expansion, ANOTHER WOLFCOP includes some wonderfully funny and surprising cameos throughout the film, all of which fits into the world of Wolfcop like a glove. This is not only a huge boost for a solid film but also a sign also that Dean has something that has been earned and that the respect and admiration of fans and peers based on his work.

ANOTHER WOLFCOP has a charm to each level of the film and Dean’s work is not a simple, mindless schlock fest. While the narrative is not the most complex piece of writing in the history of the cinema, it’s that elevated exploitation film approach that allows Dean as a filmmaker to change the levels of storytelling humor without having people feel like it’s ego over creative control and talent. This also goes hand in hand with the practical side of the film as we see the filmmaker raise the game on FX, prosthetics and makeup, this time giving a new twist that cultivates both gore AND gags. This level up when it comes to FX, the overall feel and presence in the film not only came from his growing trust in the world he has created but the backing of those who offer resources and insight to help follow a path to success and not rush. With influences that range from classic films like LETHAL WEAPON to slapstick-smart comedies like THE NAKED GUN, STRANGE BREW and SLAPSHOT, you’re able to see the lessons learned by Dean and the influence very evident on this new canvas.

In the end, ANOTHER WOLFCOP is a great sequel and with the reaction it received at the screening, it seems that it will rise to be another cult film for the creator who continues to show that with a larger budget, support and a vision, you can craft a film that will be more than a fly by night, cheap and raunchy comedy. This prime Canadian brew hits many notes just right, never loses its roots in Canadian culture and always makes you feel like you’re in on the joke. This I hope will lead to an expansion of a universe that may include more monsters, gore and mayhem.