Bloody Murder, Outlandish Comedy, and Beautiful Welsh Landscapes! Wolf (2023) results in a bizarre blend of genre and atmosphere, but the outcome must be seen!

I’m Lydia, an actor, self-proclaimed cinephile, born and raised in Cardiff. With an undying love for film, tv and theatre, every aspect of my life revolves around the arts. Writing, performing and filmmaking are my passions and I aspire to breakthrough into the industry, as well as the local art scene in Cardiff. Film Probe is a way for me to grow my knowledge and share my passion with like-minded cinema and theatre lovers!

Film Review: Wolf (2023)

Wolf (2023), a newly released BBC limited series that you can sink your teeth into. With six episodes available to watch, this gruesome murder mystery layers suspense with each moment. Adapted and created by Megan Gallagher, Wolf (2023) begins with a dual narrative of two rather opposing situations. On the one side we see a detective searching for answers about his missing brother and on the other, a middle class family targeted by two clownish home invaders. The story appears to be tame but once you reach episode three the tonal change makes it hard to look away. Wolf (2023) begins slowly, somewhat engaging, but once the real plot starts to unravel this series is truly binge-worthy. As you get deeper into each episode we notice the two stories are linked in more ways than one but what will be the ultimate reveal? How are these characters all connected?

With several ties to Cardiff and South Wales, the majority of the talented cast are local. Filmed in neighbouring towns Monmouthshire, Pontyclun and Penarth, this series drew on its strong Welsh roots and made a home in Cardiff whilst filming at the Enfys Studios.

Overall, the plot and execution was incredibly thrilling, although I must mention the unusual use of comedy. In what can only be described as an intense thriller, there were often moments of comic relief which felt unnatural and foreign within the series. Actors Iwan Rheon and Sacha Dhawan carried an unusual tone throughout their scenes, blurring the fine line between terror and comedy. They were provided with plenty to work with and delivered memorable characters in Detectives Molina and Honey. Although I appreciated the intention to interject comedy to this series, as a whole, it hindered several moments from being taken seriously.

Film Review: Wolf (2023)
Credit: BBC Media Centre – BBC/Hartswood Films Ltd/Simon Ridgway

In saying that, Wolf (2023) is a series full of mature content in a variety of forms and is most definitely not for the fainthearted. Despite the light hearted and satirical moments, Wolf (2023) at its core is a brutal murder mystery with some incredibly heavy content. Ukwell Roach, who played the role of Jack Caffery, single handedly carried the series into the success it is. Without his tremendous acting and truly likeable performance, Wolf (2023) would have been lacking humanity and a character to root for.

Following two stories can often be overwhelming for a viewer as waiting for the plots to collide is the majority of suspense. Wolf (2023) undeniably delivered a memorable ending, for mystery thrillers the ending is the be all and end all and I can confirm this reveal is worth the watch. Detective Jack Caffery’s (Ukweli Roach) journey of self discovery and acceptance had heart and emotion, his trajectory was easily the most engaging. His character arc was a constant and reliable part of the series, as the plot slowly built around his tragic backstory and allowed the viewer to truly connect with his pain. Sadly, when the story switched to the comical home invasion, the story lost its credibility. Detectives Molina and Honey (Rheon, Dhawan) felt reminiscent of Billy Loomis and Stu Macher from the original Scream (1996) movie; dangerous psychopaths with cruel intentions and a light splattering of taunting, mocking rage. Molina and Honey’s scenes felt incredibly detached from the primary story. They provided a bold change of mood and borderline attempted to lighten the serious subject matter of Caffery’s story.

The series as a whole is confused. Not quite knowing its own genre or direction, it feels scattered. As a viewer it was easy to pick apart moments throughout. It was not a clear watch and plenty of moments simply didn’t deliver. To conclude, Wolf (2023) is a dynamic, thrilling series with a handful of disturbing moments juxtaposed with comedic terror. Having a unique use of music and cinematography, Wolf (2023) felt professional and undeniably well written and performed. Despite the character flaws and handful of uncomfortable attempts at comedy, Wolf (2023) should have committed to one genre. Ultimately that would have made the final plot reveal even more shocking.

If you were unsure about watching this BBC limited series, Wolf (2023) is just one in the latest wave of television to be shot in Wales but more specifically, Cardiff! Looking for more series filmed in Wales? Start with ‘The Witcher’, ’Sex Education’ or ‘His Dark Materials’.

To keep all with all things film, you can follow Lydia over on Instagram: @filmprobe

Author WCS

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