Lower Your Expectations Drastically for Rising Wolf (2021)
Title: Rising Wolf
First Non-Festival Release: April 8, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Antaine Furlong
Writer: Antaine Furlong, Kieron Holland
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Starring: Charlotte Best, Jonny Pasvolsky, Tahlia Sturzaker
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Aria (Charlotte Best) wakes up gagged and bound in a high-tech elevator. Unsure of how or why she is there she struggles to find a way out. Suddenly, she’s thrust into the air as the elevator careens recklessly towards the ground only stopping moments before impact. Just as she thinks her predicament has ended, she’s thrust back up just as high as she started. This process repeats itself until she is face to face with her abductors who are coincidentally holding her father (Jonny Pasvolsky) hostage. Used as bait, Aria is tortured by the mechanical monstrosity while being forced to watch her father be tortured for information. She also learns that her father is keeping something else a secret from her too.
Rising Wolf is a hilariously inept sci-fi horror thriller that is equal parts confounding and irritating.
It’s difficult to explain what happens in this movie because its ambition far outpaces its capabilities. There’s a little bit of a confined horror mixed with vibes straight out of Saw or Cube which revels in the terror of its wild premise. There’s the more sci-fi and fantasy approach, showcased through clumsily inserted flashback sequences that help break up the monotony of Aria’s torture while giving the audience more “vital” information. Even more, there’s aspects of an action-packed superhero film, with Aria discovering her true nature. It’s all bizarre and doesn’t work despite recent genre efforts that manage to toe the line between these elements. Rising Wolf doesn’t know what it wants to be, and it suffers from this indecisiveness.
Beyond that, the silliness makes it impossible to take seriously, which Rising Wolf ardently wishes its audience would. There torture sequences are not only painfully drawn out in the worse way, but also feel unrealistic from an antagonist’s perspective. With their trap so public, how did they expect to pull it off? Could the 24,000,000 people of Shanghai not spot a crazy elevator zooming up and down for the better part of an entire night? Setting aside the fact that the elevator would likely give out after so many brutal drops in succession, it’s so easy to lose interest in watching someone get flung back and forth for an hour and forty minutes.
Other than some initial backstory, not much is ever explained of who Aria is and what she wants. Her entire development is confined to learning about a concealed identity, which leads to what exactly in the end? Not much. It comes off more as a ploy to develop the plot without fully committing to developing Aria. The rest of the characters are equally as flimsy, sporting the most cartoonish motivations possible to push the film further along. The quality in writing translates to poor acting, as the cast struggles to bring their two-dimensional characters to life through clunky and expository dialogue.
It’s difficult to find many things to praise in Rising Wolf. It’s clear that the team is going for a sleek, sci-fi styled aesthetic but it doesn’t hit it at all. The budget shows in most shots but there are some decent elevator sequences that aren’t totally wrecked by cgi. Ghastly effects work is to blame partly. The final elevator scene is devastatingly hilarious given how hokey it is played. Overall, there isn’t much to save this sluggish and convoluted elevator thriller.
A cocktail of the worst tropes spanning multiple genres and an overall bewildering concept, Rising Wolf is a cinematic oddity straight from the pits of the worst of what Australia has to offer. If it weren’t for the few tense scenes in the elevator shaft and a laugh or two, this film would easily rank as one of the worst of the year. Repetitive, garish, and ultimately boring, this film takes what could have been a unique setup and bungles it with a messy script, awful acting, and rough editing. Keep your expectations grounded as much as possible lest they free fall after the first five minutes into Rising Wolf.
Overall Score? 3.5/10