WolfCop knows it could sell itself on name alone – the title is the character is the premise is the appeal. The Canadian indie horror-comedy boasts a strong, modern marketing presence, with the YouTube trailer (see below) boasting hashtags right in its title, and the website urging you to check out the “trailer, gallery, and MOAR!”
But there’s the flip side to all this: it’s a good film, and it takes itself…well, exactly as seriously as it should. Writer/director Lowell Dean and star Leo Fafard talked with BeatRoute about the horror genre, Canadian film, and, of course, fake blood.
BeatRoute: You were working on a werewolf script and a cop script separately and decided to combine them.
Lowell Dean: I just jokingly said, “I should smash them together.” And then the image of WolfCop was in my head, and he has not left since. But it completely started as a joke. It’s one of those things where you laugh about it, and then you lie awake at night thinking, “What the hell would a werewolf cop do?”
BR: Leo, you have lots of credits behind the camera. Was acting always something that you were going to transition into?
Leo Fafard: I actually went to U of R and took performance theatre, so I started out as an actor. I had taken a position as a trainee electric one summer just so I could get a feel for film sets. It sorta just snowballed on me and I ended up being a technician for the better part of 15 years. This is sort of a dream come true. You can start losing sight of your dreams after over a decade.
BR: There’s been quite a trend, especially with the advent of relatively cheap digital effects, for companies to market an attention-grabbing horror premise and then attach a really shoddy movie – not to name names of certain shark-themed horror flicks. WolfCop’s not leaning on the “so bad it’s good” label but then you’re still working with that same kind of inherently silly central premise.
LD: We didn’t want it to be a one-trick pony. I’ve been saying from the very beginning that the name is silly, and it’s gonna hopefully get attention and get people in the door. But our dream was that people would walk out and say, “…well, holy shit, that movie called WolfCop was actually good.”
BR: A big question with horror is CG versus practical effects, and part of what makes WolfCop work is that there’s a real triumph with the prosthetics, makeup, etc.
LD: You can stare at WolfCop, an inch away from his face, and it looks good. That’s why I love physical effects. It’s not just the cheap thing…it’s not always cheap. But it always looks good, it’s dependable, and most important, it’s tangibly real.
BR: How about on the actor’s side?
LF: You’re basically stuck. With the WolfCop uniform and all the prosthetics and stuff on. It’s kind of a nightmare trying to stay cool all day, and not dehydrate. Or on other days, you’re lying outside, on a cold day, there’s snow on the ground, and someone’s pouring fake blood on you that’s been sitting out in the cold. So, there’s both extremes. They’re not hardships, just practicalities. And there are scary parts where you’re trying to do a jump out of a tree, you’ve had contacts in for several hours and your vision’s starting to close in on you and you’re thinking, “I hope I land this all right…because I can’t really see the ground very well.” [Laughs]
BR: Lowell, how does WolfCop fit in with Canadian film as a whole?
LD: I think Canadian filmmaking has been in a bit of a rut. We were banging our heads up against the wall even with this project trying to get it made. It’s so bizarre now to go into a new city, and be walking down the street, and have people look at Leo and say, “WolfCop!” In my humble opinion, Canadian cinema needs more heroes; we need more ridiculousness.
A slick standout in its subgenre, WolfCop’s exactly the sort of laugh-then-scream fun that a Friday night at the movies should be. WolfCopmay not be destined for next year’s Oscars, but he’s a Canadian hero worth getting behind.
WolfCop’s now playing at Scotiabank Theatre Chinook.
By Chris Shalom