The Warner Archive celebration of Halloween 2017 continues with the October 3, 2017 DVD release of the 2016 thriller "Wolves at the Door." This joins the ranks of (previously reviewed) recent Archive horror releases such as "The Green Slime," "The Hidden," and "Innocent Blood." "Within" is scheduled for tomorrow.
"Wolves" is the most creepy of this lot both because it is true and involves human (rather than alien or other supernatural) monsters.
The following YouTube clip of an early "Wolves" scene perfectly illustrates the tone of the film.
This docudrama about the Manson family begins with that cult terrorizing a couple at 3:00 a.m on a day in August 1969 apparently simply for the fun of it. The LAPD shrugs this incident off as mischief either by hippies or kids on drugs.
Moving the action forward to pregnant actress Sharon Tate (a.k.a. Mrs. Roman Polanski) throwing a going-away party for good friend/coffee heiress Abigail Folger at a restaurant on the evening before Folger is scheduled to return to the east coast provides foreshadowing for folks familiar with the Manson history. Celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring is the escort of Tate, and Folger boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski is spending his last evening with his girlfriend.
The quartet returning to the Polanski-Tate estate to keep the party going is reminiscent of the OJ case (complete with the a sketchy character occupying the guest house). The revelers initially remain blissfully ignorant as the audience sees the Manson clan arrive and initially direct their efforts at a guest of the aforementioned caretaker.
Director John R. Leonetti does a good job building the suspense as Charles and those of whom he is in charge set the stage for the subsequent blood bath. We see the shadowy figures on the lawn and in the house, the cutting off of escape routes, and the fear-inducing bumps in the night and other purposeful means of terrorizing the future murder victims.
This being "based on actual events" contributes to the terror; the fact that all of us are still vulnerable to a nut job with or without equally psychotic followers determining that we are worthy of their attention amps up the fear factor.
One particularly creepy scene clearly inspires the most effective element of the 1999 horror film "The Sixth Sense." Abigail sees a shadowy figure of one of Charlie's angels wave at her in a hallway and then walk in the bedroom suite of Sharon. The chills continue with that woman being nowhere to be seen on Abigail following her in the room.
Like both the real-life basis for the docudrama and most purely fictional horror films, the terror effectively builds to the inevitable blood bath that may have inspired the fictional versions of that carnage.
The strong creepy vibe and terrorized "innocents" throughout provide all viewers good entertainment; getting to know more about Tate (and the rest) who get slaughtered is a bonus to folks who know of the "docu" elements of this drama.
"Wolves" ending with a recap of the actual events (complete with footage of Manson and his family) awesomely reminds us that the movie is scary because it is true.
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