Written and directed by Marc Leland, She Wolf Rising is a bizarre and jumbled movie that can’t quite find its purpose. The 2016 film features low-priced effects, corny acting and a plot that disjointedly laces its way from a werewolf-based yarn to a slasher feature to a cornball romance to some kind of buddy comedy.
Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with joining various genres in one picture and finding chaotic beauty in putting together a puzzle. But She Wolf Rising can’t get its stories straight, which makes things complicated and takes the focus away from any charmingly cheap thrills.
Jake Bubar (Timothy Mandala) is hanging out with his pal (Brandon Ellis) and they’re watching an unreleased horror movie starring the lovely Gina Skylar (Tiffany Shepis). She is a renowned scream queen, but she wants more serious roles. Also, something weird happens to her when someone starts quoting lines from horror movies.
Jake tells his buddy about how he met Gina while buying a magazine. Gina tasks Jake with helping her find a pilfered film, purportedly the finest work from director Robert Lonzo (J. Edmund Fond). The actress believes the movie will be her big break to the mainstream, but there are dark secrets afoot.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how She Wolf Rising moves from point to point. At the outset, it builds a story about an angry scream queen looking to make the jump to Scorsese pictures. She barks angrily at her agent and sends out a headshot. The surplus of flashbacks and dream sequences only confuses things.
Using Jake as an access point is an interesting idea. His friend is the stereotypical dullard, complete with a “Hooray for Boobies” shirt. Jake explains his outlandish story as best he can, but he doesn’t have all the pieces and he’s struggling to understand exactly what Gina wants with him. Mandala doesn’t seem certain as to how to play the part, either.
Gina, too, suffers from the curse of too many ideas. Her character swings from an entitled actress to a lovey-dovey rom-com heroine to a twisted wolf chick to a scheming hellcat. And there’s no evolution to coax the way to these fluctuations; she’s just suddenly a different person. At one point, she even inhabits a dead body.
She Wolf Rising sometimes seems aware of itself, like when Gina transforms into some kind of beast at the sound of horror movie quotes. But there are moments that suggest things are a little more tone-deaf, like a mound of homophobic comments toward the beginning of the picture.
While some rougher swings may be excused in the world of exploitation filmmaking, She Wolf Rising doesn’t exactly push the envelope. The graphic violence is garden variety and embellished with ridiculous CGI, with blood spatter reminiscent of recent straight-to-video Steven Seagal fare.
Even the sexual content is a letdown, with several teasing moments stumbling through poor execution. One scene has Jake take off Gina’s clothes for rather noble purposes, but the lighting and cinematography is atrocious. Later, two girls attempt to seduce Jake with a fleet of awkward kisses.
She Wolf Rising isn’t good. It may boast the workmanlike quality of many low budget pictures, but it lacks fun and wildness. Leland gets too caught up in his own plot and any momentum is blown, with numerous arcs and ideas melted down into a bland broth of irrelevance and defective conclusions.