top of page
  • Rev Horror

Aware of the Wolf

Dir. Joshua Nelson (2023)

A motivational speaker awakens the wolf inside of his students.

Director Joshua Nelson's previous film The Things We Cannot Change was an interesting take on vampirism through the lens of an addiction group, a humorous take on the genre that was fairly well done and an entertaining watch. This time around, he takes aim at a harder subject, focusing his sights on the werewolf genre by critiquing self help seminars. Whatever inspired Nelson, whether it is personal experience with self-help or just a general focus on mental health issues, he's done a pretty good job of relating the industry surrounding personal shortcomings to horror, and he does so in a very watchable way for an indie film producer. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the film that are hard to overcome, most obviously the lack of ability to provide enough werewolf to make the movie a true werewolf movie.

Terry (Tony Murphy) is a self-help guru, running a business called Terry's Transformations. Utilizing the methods perfected by pickup artists and practiced by lonely incels and men's rights advocates, Terry "negs" his audience by insulting them about everything from their looks to their lack of physical strength. He seeks to emphasize his students' choice of whether they will be predator or prey, a lampoon of the practice by real self-help leaders where they challenge their audiences to become "alphas" in a world full of "betas." By seeking to transform his students, encouraging them to let out their inner beast, he inadvertently

Far be it from me to criticize someone's path to better mental health. I'm well aware of the struggle, both through my line of work and from personal experience. Between medication, psychological counseling, and, yes, even self-help groups, there is improvement to be had for those who seek it and are willing to put in the work. It's not easy, and it's not usually immediately successful, but people who are willing to put in genuine effort on a regular, daily basis can see improvement. It's difficult for me to imagine, however, these damaged and disturbed people actually finding peace and effect through Terry's methods. Insulting people who are seeking to better their life seems, well... predatory. I suppose that is part of the message at the core of the film, however, that sometimes the people who are claiming to help are just as predacious of their audience as the people they are seeking to escape.

While the critique within the film is rather apt and applicable to the self-help industry, there are definitely some faults within the film. The acting is wooden at best in some instances, the plotting of the film fails to make sense at some instances, and far too much of the film is dedicated to depicting the tragedy porn of these people's lives than it is on werewolf horror. In fact, it's difficult to really classify it as horror at all, instead being more of a vauely-werewolf drama throughout most of the runtime. That isn't necessarily a criticism, of course: there's nothing wrong with an indie drama. I don't think that's what the film was going for, however, and it feels like a movie that had too small of a budget and was forced to focus heavily on the dialogue instead of the action.

Once the film finally does get to the werewolf part of the werewolf movie, it struggles mightily in delivering something the audience wants to see. The effects ability are there, but it's rarely used. The werewolf looks cool, from what little the audience is allowed to see it. And while Tony Murphy, by far the star of the film, does a pretty decent job in his role, the rest of the characters feel more like caricatures of wounded people than they do a real part of a serious film. Director Joshua Nelson is clearly talented, and he has some legitimately good ideas. I feel like with an improved ability to edit his ideas, he really could create something incredible. Unfortunately, this one isn't quite it. It's still an entertaining watch, however, and even has a few moments of the type of batshit insanity that will draw in the indie horror fans.

Who this movie is for: Indie horror lovers, Werewolf movie fans, Tony Robbins

Bottom line: Aware of the Wolf struggles to really find its footing as anything other than a drama, but it's decent in that regard, and when it finally does make its way more into the realm of horror, it's handled well enough to be entertaining. It's also relatively depressing, so if you're wanting to watch this as a horror comedy celebration of increased mental health, it's probably not gonna be your jam. I definitely recommend checking it out for yourself, however, and I'm always going to encourage indie horror creators to keep making shit for me to watch, because I'm damn sure gonna watch it. Joshua Nelson is talented enough that eventually he's going to hit a home run, even if this one doesn't quite knock it out of the park.

bottom of page