Directed By: Mitchell Altieri
Written By: Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores, Cory Knauf
Starring: Jenna Haze, Evan Crooks, Michael Hudson, Monty Geer, Keith Roenke
UK Certification: 15
Running Time: 76 minutes
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
UK Release Date: 18th August 2014
The Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores) burst into the UK market back in late 2007 with the superb gorefest The Hamiltons (2006). Following a notable misstep with the dreary April Fool’s Day (2008) remake, they churned out the underrated grungy biker horror The Violent Kind (2010) before reacquainting themselves with the Hamilton family for The Thompsons (2012), in which they took the ambitious and successful step of moving the narrative over to the UK. We’re yet to see Holy Ghost People in the UK, so in the meantime we skip forward onto Raised by Wolves, which once again sees the pair on scripting duties along with Francis Hamilton himself, Cory Knauf.
What is it about charismatic cult leaders at the moment in horror movies? Following Ti West’s superb The Sacrament (2013) and also Glen Triggs slightly less impressive Apocalyptic (2014), Raised by Wolves begins in the summer of 1973 where we discover that dozens of teenagers were lured to a remote plantation by a charismatic cult leader. While under his spell they were brainwashed into attacking anyone outside the group which then led to a killing spree of unimaginable brutality. The aforementioned events formed part of a cover-up and the only survivor of this tragedy was locked away to ensure that the secrets of the Plainsong Massacre remained hidden forever.
Needless to say as we progress into the present day, it’s not long before a group of unsuspecting teenagers venture onto the abandoned plantation and reawaken a dormant evil. You can pretty much guess the rest, right? Well, that’s true to some extent, but with Raised by Wolves having The Butcher Brothers stamp of guerrilla-esque ingenuity along with a kicking soundtrack by Dance with the Dead, the film manages to continually rise above the predictable mediocrity that it seemed destined to fall into.
Our group of teens for example don’t fall into the conventional A B C of clichéd horror movie characters. The boys in the movie are all hard-ass skaters who have the relentless desire to find the best skating locations that they can, with one such place being in the aforementioned plantation location. Much of this adventure is being shot by Mikey (Crooks) with the intention of capturing some excellent skateboarding footage – and he does as these guys can really skate. Once they become settled in their destination though, it soon becomes clear that Mikey’s camera may well be about to pick up some decidedly sinister activities.
Inventiveness oozes through the short but prudent running time of Raised by Wolves. For a film that even the most positive of horror aficionados would approach with begrudging air of limited expectations, it surpasses them with aplomb. It’s an inexperienced cast too, give or take the odd Dave DeCoteau movie, who bring a naturalistic hunger to their roles which manages to eradicate the trap of prosaic incredulity and after a while you really begin to like these kids.
As the film descends into a dimly lit nocturnal denouement, it’s likely to frustrate and excite in equal measure, and while it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, I do think it takes a very bald tyre and replaces it with a part-worn Goodyear. It’s fresh, it’s brisk and with a chillingly unsettling location it manages to attach a set of paddles to the found footage genre and shock it back into life.
7 out of 10