Inspired by the horrific Manson murders in 1969, Wolves At The Door tells the story of 4 friends at a farewell party that turns into a fight for survival when strange figures stalk and attempt to enter the house with the intent of killing all 4 people. The story itself is intruiging and there are small teases of tension throughout but its squandered by a lack of character development and a surprising exclusion of tense music.
Whilst watching I tried to pinpoint exactly why Wolves At The Door wasn’t invoking more tension. After all, the home invasion angle is a dramatic idea and some of the distorted camera angles and darkened shots of the figures trying to break in are surprisingly well done and should be more frightening than they are. I realized about three quarters of the way through this 70 minute film, that it was the musical score, or lack thereof.
Now, whilst I’m not suggesting that some haunting violin chords would have solved the film’s problems, it certainly would have done a good job of hiding the other problems rife with the film. With any horror or thriller film, there’s usually a rising tension emphasized by music but here its just…silent. Its a good example of how much a good score can elevate a film and this, for me, is one of the biggest problems with Wolves At The Door.
Having said that, there are some smartly shot scenes. The opening 10 minutes or so are surprisingly well done despite the music issues I mentioned before. The symbology between this and The Three Little Pigs story is a clever touch and one that teases a link to the film’s title. Unfortunately, this is the extent of the good points. The film’s bland, under-developed characters never quite hit the mark for wanting to care about them and ultimately, the most dramatic part of the film is the final 5 minutes where the actual killers are interviewed and a bit more backstory is given to their motivations.
Ultimately, Wolves At The Door is a missed opportunity. The setting and the actual plot is intriguing enough but the execution is not good at all. The lack of music never allows any dramatic tension to rise and although it just about ticks the box for being labelled a horror/thriller film, ultimately it has neither in large supply. With a better script and more thought around the music, Wolves At The Door could have been a passable film but much like The Three Little Pig story it references throughout, the film is like the straw hut; it topples at the first obstacle and never looked stable enough to hold its own.