Wolfkin Review


When it comes to creating a feature with the intention of scaring your audience, sometimes the best choice is to go with the classics, plucking creatures from yesteryear. Of course, modern viewers are going to need more than the black and white Universal Classic Monsters that dominated the screen from the 1930s to the 1950s. Those same iconic names are still welcome, of course, like mummies and vampires, but new twists must be put on their usual plots in order to garner renewed attention.

Just recently, an ambitious movie made by European director and filmmaker Jacques Molitor (Mammejong) looked to wield this plot-making recipe when he evolved the concept of werewolves through Wolfkin (also known as Kommunioun). This fantasy and horror hybrid begins with an intimate cold open where Elaine, the main female lead, and a man named Patrick are making love in a small clearing within a green-filled forest. After running off in a panic upon sensing that she is not like him, the man comes back as a wolf, revealing to the audience his own true nature.

After a time jump, we come across the same woman, who now has a young son who’s starting to exhibit peculiar manners and a tendency towards an animalistic type of violence. He scratches a student at school and bites another who attends his birthday party. Elaine has an ominous feeling that this behavior is emanating from his absent father, and she seeks out Patrick’s parents, hoping they know how to deal with this.

Mother and Son on a Harrowing Journey

Wolfkin mother and son werewolf movie 2023
Uncork’d Entertainment

What started out as a twisted coming of age story quickly morphs into an even bigger, familial descent into madness as Elaine’s distanced family turn to extreme measures in order to stave off her son’s condition. Within a small manor that sits in a rural part of Luxembourg, actress Louise Manteau seamlessly goes through a flurry of emotions when adjusting to this new way of life as a mother who doesn’t know how to protect her son from what he’s going through.

Along with the controlling grandparents (who are hauntingly played by Marco Lorenzini and Marja-Leena Junker), there is also Myriam Muller, who plays the all-knowing housemaid Carla. Jules Werner steps into the role of Patrick’s savage brother, Jean, and Yulia Chernyshkova brings to life Tatiana, Jean’s pregnant partner.

Related: The Most Underrated Werewolf Movies, Ranked

Even though Chernyshkova does a fine job of manifesting an outsider who has voluntarily entered this secretive and cult-like family, her character only serves to show Jean’s volatile personality, which is shown anyway through his behavior to Elaine. It’ss a shame, because every other presence in this international creature feature serves an intertwining purpose toward the movie’s epic and endearing finale that is surprisingly not only gruesome but endearing to anybody who values family traditions.

The Young Male Lead Shines in Wolfkin

Martin after transforming into a Wolfkin
Uncork’d Entertainment

As much as Wolfkin offers in terms of rebirthed folklore and religious family drama, the most alluring howl that this movie has is in young actor Victor Dieu, who portrays 10-year-old Martin, Elaine’s son who is coming to be older and wiser in the most terrifying of ways. The way he visually shows hesitancy and an unspoken anxiousness as he slowly walks through this new uncontrollable persona is a triumph.

At times, he is just a young boy who seeks his mom’s approval at every turn, but in other moments, Martin engages in very uncharacteristic and fiendish acts that shatter this same image. He is the most thrilling part of this suspenseful drama, since viewers ultimately realize that unlike children of his own age, his tumultuous maturation instead involves transforming into something that human life never intended.

Related: The Most Dysfunctional Mother-Son Relationships of All Time in Movies, Ranked

In saying that, Wolfkin suffers the most through his scenes as well. Instead of showing close up shots in those early moments when his other persona takes over and attacks his schoolmates, the audience instead follows the mother’s footsteps as she consoles him both times. Seeing his shock, shame, and confusion would have triggered emotional responses from those watching that would have helped this movie stand out not only in terms of genre but uniqueness.

A Religious Tone Waters Down Everything Else

The dynamic behind Elaine and Martin alone give this feature enough thematic weight as is. A single mother who does her best to shield her growing monster of a son from society’s normalcy sounds like an involved, fantastical plot that would easily relate to parental situations of today.

But by the third act, Patrick’s family members bring about layers of themes which, at first, seem to be important to the story but just end up getting lost in the shuffle. Luckily, Elaine’s maternal instinct to help her son during these troubling times remains consistent, but the noxious religious overtones (suggested by the original title, Kommunioun) and commentary on abusive relationships don’t feel like they hit the mark when the first focal point remains the most interesting.

This fright fest definitely has some trouble when it comes to neatly organizing its numerous ideas and beliefs that the cast and crew intended to express, but at the end of the day, Wolfkin is still very much an enjoyable ride that shows how far a mother is willing to go in order to save her son — even if that means bringing chaos a little closer to home.

Look out for Wolfkin when it arrives on DVD and digital platforms on August 8th.

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