It's a bad omen when howls of audience laughter replace those of your titular character in the problem-plagued remake of legendary Universal beastie, The Wolfman.
Released on a full moon weekend, this troubled production is one missed opportunity after the next, as yet another creature from the studio's stable of monsters gets a facelift (Francis Ford Coppola had his turn at bat with Dracula back in 1992, followed by Kenneth Branaugh's painfully-earnest-and-just-plain-painful Frankenstein in 1994 and Steve Sommers turned the turgid The Mummy into a silly fun house five years later).
It should be noted that the film's original director parted ways with the production, causing director Joe Johnson (Jurrasic Park 3) to step in and pick up pieces, then began the battle of transformation via computer or old-school prosthetic makeup, all pushing the film's release date further and further into the future.
The result is a neutered mess, featuring phoned-in performances from its two leads, Anthony Hopkins (as Sir John Talbot, an aging patriarch of a cursed clan), Benicio Del Toro (as Lawrence Talbot, his prodigal son who returns to his London home after, judging by his accent, spending a considerable time in the Bronx).
A second premature death in the Talbot tribe beckons Lawrence to his palatial-but-crumbling family estate, where he's greeted by his estranged father and Gwen, his recently widowed sister-in-law-to-be, played with some level of competence by Emily Blunt. Her future husband, Lawrence's brother, was the latest victim of a savage smackdown by some unknown creature tearing up the local population.
Before you can say “McGruff,” Lawrence is trying to take a bite out the crime, but it unfortunately bites back, and Lawrence soon develops rather strange urges when the full moon emerges.
There's a big difference between scares and suspense. The Wolfman has a smattering of the former, perhaps at the expense of the latter. Random characters are spooked, jolted and sacked by some hairy linebacker, random objects are thrust out of the darkness for cheap thrills, and the soundtrack booms calculated to cause audiences' hearts to momentarily skip a beat. There is little consequence to any of it other than an in-the-moment “gotcha!”