The Wolves of Savin Hill may not be very original, but it tried very hard.
by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)
Ok, so I’ve watched a lot of straight-to-DVD releases recently. And while most have been complete and utter shite, there have been a couple of decent ones that have been worth shouting about. It’s a bit of a rarity to come across an average, run-of-the-mill straight-to-DVD film. Honestly, it’s nice. It’s nice to not have to be mean about a film that some poor muppet with no money has thrown his heart and soul in to only to come up really, really short. Similarly, it’s amazing to trip across that one low-budget “should’ve been crap” film and get to rave about it for a bit, hoping that you’ve helped get a film-maker get a little further in their career. Finding an average flick to write about is lovely, no pressure to be right when you recommend it, but you’re not crucifying the director either.
The disclaimer here, however, should be that no matter what, this is still a straight-to-video release and should be treated as such. So with that in mind, I just finished watching The Wolves of Savin Hill.
Childhood buddies Sean and Tommy find themselves drifting apart after they discover a young girls murdered body in Savin Hill Park, Boston. Thirty years later, Sean is now living in Los Angeles, married to Tommy’s sister and has made a career as a policeman with a pretty sordid couple of decades between leaving Massachusetts and us finding him now. Tommy is still living in Boston, playing the part of the cliché drunken loser. After a visit from his estranged wife informing him that his sister has died, Tommy flies out to L.A to find out what has happened.
Almost instantly, Tommy and Sean find each other and Tommy is dragged into Sean’s generic “dirty cop” underworld. The fact that his sister as been found drowned in the bath and it’s been called a suicide (yeah, really) has quickly become a secondary thought compared to trying to climb out from under the shit pile his “friend” has far too quickly dragged him in to.
Wolves of Savin Hill tries very hard to be a dark, gritty thriller. Secret meet-ups in shadowy blue-tinted car parks; corrupt cops arguing over who should and shouldn’t be stealing from people; bodies appearing and disappearing and people getting set up to take the fall for crimes they didn’t commit. Wolves is a checklist of tropes and clichés that every cop thriller has to go through, only this one doesn’t really have the chops to deliver on its promises. That’s not to say that the film isn’t trying its damnedest to convince you of its legitimacy, it’s just coming up short in a few areas. One key scene has a suspect being chased, stopped and searched, this results in the most terrifyingly bad use of the line “winner, winner, chicken dinner” ever to be put to film with pretty laughable effect. It’s scenes like this one that ruin even the best films at times.
The actors try their hardest to bring a sometimes pretty lacklustre script to life. Tommy, played by David Cooley, who clearly isn’t very comfortable on camera, looks like a mix of Bill Goldberg and bald, bearded John Travolta from From Paris With Love and his acting is somewhere in between the two as he spends most of his time in a long leather coat looking pretty rent-a-thug while his buddy, Sean, played by Brian Scannell looks like he got the job because he can invoke memories of The Shield looking like a second rate Michael Chiklis!
First time writer/director John Beaton Hill has done a half decent job with his debut feature, weaving a good tale filled with twists and turns. It’s not without its faults, most obviously he could have done with a steadycam rig, or maybe just a decent tripod to keep the shakes down a bit. And the bizarre choice to pointlessly flashback the entire film near the end left me pretty perplexed, I have to admit. Don’t write The Wolves of Savin Hill off, it’s not going to win any awards, but when you trip across it on TV, give it a watch. The film is destined for a post-watershed spot on Movies4Men on a Friday night. And it could be much, much worse.
The Wolves of Savin Hill has yet to receive a UK release, but you can find more information about it on their website or watch the trailer below.