A blog exploring the sexy, shocking, surreal, and silly side of horror films.

August 26, 2010

Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf (2010)


Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf (2010) 

Director: Andrew Cymek

When people think of independent Canadian horror / thrillers, they tend to focus unfairly on the limitations of a low budget rather than the talent that often shines through. Medium Raw is the kind of film where the director's talents are clearly evident but the film may be hampered by its budget, casting, and production schedule. It is, all things considered, a fairly successful thriller with a strong comic book vibe. It also introduced me to one of my new favorite costumed killers: THE WOLF.


In Parker's Asylum, the maniacs are loose and out for blood

The WOLF: an armored serial killer with deadly metal jaws
THE BULL: A maniac who kills at the sight of anything red.
MABEL: A raving cannibal looking for her next meal

In MEDIUM RAW: NIGHT OF THE WOLF, all are prisoners of Parker's Asylum until a power outage frees the inmates and traps innocent people inside. Among them are Johnny (Andrew Cymek) a cop looking for revenge on the Wolf for killing his sister, Jamie (Brigitte Kingsley), Johnny's ex-lover and a therapist in the extreme cases ward, and Dr. Parker (William B. Davis) the head of the institute. Johnny and Jamie must help protect those trapped inside of the asylum from being preyed upon by The Wolf (Craig Snoyer), who murders according to a twisted Red Riding Hood obsession, Mabel (Sandi Ross) an exuberant down-home cannibal, and the Bull played by the late Canadian wrestler Andrew Martin (aka. Test).

Rating: 3.5 / 5


The Wolf is a fantastic and genuinely unnerving villain. With a menacing (if somewhat impracticable) costume, the Wolf cuts an impressive silhouette. There are several generally creepy scenes at the beginning of the film and later in the asylum where the Wolf is a real threat on par with any other costumed killer in the horror pantheon. His mask is like a bear trap ready to spring on your face, and he's decked out in metal plating and sharp claws. The costume, art, and set direction in this film needs to be applauded. The asylum and other creepy locales feel like immersive and claustrophobic environments were maniacs are waiting for you just around the corner. They never feel like cheaply constructed sets; they are the perfect places for the Wolf to hunt and play. 
The Wolf, out of costume, being trained to sit and stand like a good boy.
The Wolf, it also turns out, cannot speak because of an injury that Johnny inflicted on him during his arrest. That plot device, while odd at first, opens up a whole other dimension to the character  that, while I kind of saw it coming, was nevertheless entirely satisfying. The Wolf as a villain gets a big thumbs up from me.
Cannibal Mabel goes, "NOM NOM NOM!"
As much as I loved the Wolf, the real standout scares in this film come from the character of Mabel (Sandi Ross) as a gleeful domestic cannibal. When Mabel escapes, she tries to bond with her therapist Jamie (Brigitte Kingsley) by teaching her how to cook. Rather than playing Mabel as a menacing arch-villain, Sandi Ross plays Mabel as a very exuberant foodophile, except her meat of passion just happens to be human flesh. There are really great gore scenes dripping with black comedy as Mabel teaches Jamie how to correctly cut flanks of human flesh and properly cook a human rib cage. Her bond with Jamie also blends Mabel's love of food with a sexual undertone that culminates in a tasty scene that I don't want to spoil. 

When we screened Medium Raw in August at Horror in the Hammer's Fright Night Theatre, the crowd went nuts for Mabel. Sandi Ross's performance is flat-out worth the price of admission. You can hear how excited the audience was in our Q and A with the cast of Medium Raw on episode #16 of Screamwave the horror podcast.

Unfortunately, the acting of our two lead heroes is painfully wooden in comparison. While Brigitte Kingsley gave a good turn as Summer Vale in Dark Rising, her performance as Jamie misses the mark. She does not sell any of the romance or the danger she needs to, even during some convincing peril stunts. Writer/director Andrew Cymek plays Johnny, and he's not much better. Johnny's back-story and past relationship with Jamie is too angsty and moody for him to pull off seriously. It's not until the film begins to embrace its comic book tone and run with its black comedy that Cymek and Kingsley's characters start to come alive. This occurs, however, too close to the end of the film.

Watchin' X-Files with no lights on /
We're dans la maison /
I hope the Smoking Man's in this one
Thankfully, Cymek was able to land two other notable actors to bring some genre gravitas to Medium Raw. In the role of Dr. Parker, William B. Davis lands every line with a perfect mixture of menace, sincerity, and melodrama. Davis is best known to fans of X-Files as the Cigarette-Smoking Man, and he does not disappoint. Also popping up in a small cameo is
John Rhys-Davies, best known as Gimli the dwarf from Lord of the Rings and Sallah from the Indiana Jones films.

While the acting can be rocky and too many times it hinders the dark tone that the film is going for, Medium Raw's gimmicky villains are a pleasure to watch. In particular, the Wolf and Mabel are worth seeing even if you don't care about the excellent sets and settings. Keep in mind that Medium Raw is not a big-budget Hollywood feature, it does have limitations. There are diamonds in the rough, though. Except for the acting and scripting in places, for your money Medium Raw is a satisfying independent  horror / thriller.

If you don't fall in love with The Wolf as a villain, and if you don't completely go nuts for Sandi Ross as Mabel, maybe you're the one who should be in the asylum.

Attending THE FESTIVAL OF FEAR at this year's FAN EXPO CANADA? Make sure to catch the CAST OF MEDIUM RAW Q and A at 5pm. I'll be there on hand with Horror in the Hammer. Come check out the cast talk about what it was like making this film.

Full Fan Expo schedule and details @fanexpocanada.com

And make sure to catch my daily coverage from Fan Expo over at THE ZED WORD zombie blog


  1. How could I not follow a blog with such an awesome name!!!
    Cool post!

  2. I was there, agree re: Sandi Ross and Smoking Man but yah the lead actors sucked throughout who couldn't even deliver a line without obviously acting. I think comedy was unintentional, when he says "Oh no! How do I stop "everyone laughed but I don't think it was on purpose. Also the screening was attended by drunk idiots who nobody asked to shut up and who kept walking around. Minor characters of nurse who shines red light and security guard in santa suit also sucked. Wolf costume rocked and set was cool. 4/10 from me, easy to predict villain. Wolf's lawyer from Buffy also not very good.



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