Emily Blunt Loves THE WOLF MAN

The Brit thespian takes the leap into horror as the re-imagining of Universal's classic The Wolf Man prepares to shoot in February.
The "mega-hot and seriously talented" Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) has confirmed that she will play the love interest, Gwen Conliffe, in Universal's remake of its classic monster flick The Wolf Man.

Blunt expressed her enthusiasm for the project. "It's a great script, as well as very smart and dark...It's gonna be scary. I think it will have quite a gothic edge and I hope people like it."

Directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo), The Wolf Man stars Oscar Winner Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) as Lawrence Talbot, a successful Shakespearean actor who returns to his ancestral home in Victorian England when his brother goes missing. Larry is bitten by a werewolf, and things start getting kind of...hairy.

"I look forward to witty banter being exchanged between the couple," gushed PETER MARTIN at Cinematical. "Emily with her pitch-perfect diction rolling bon mots off her tongue, as Benicio mumbles something incomprehensible in return."

Screen legend Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) will portray Larry's father, Sir John Talbot, the role originated by Claude Rains in the 1941 film, which was scripted by Curt Siodmak, and which featured Evelyn Ankers (as Gwen), Bela Lugosi, Ralph Bellamy, and Lon Chaney, Jr. as Larry.

The Wolf Man is one of the most recognized of the classic Universal Monsters and has greatly influenced depictions of the werewolf legend. His appeal lies in the humanity beneath the horror. Larry is tormented by the murderous beast within, making him the ultimate reluctant monster. The character proved so popular that Chaney played him in four more Universal films.

Remake screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (Se7en, Sleepy Hollow) spent months working some frightening twists into the familiar tale, including new plot points that would take advantage of cutting-edge visual effects technology.

"I just hope...they don't rely on too much CGI effects," wrote JONNY HORROR at Bloody-Disgusting. "I hope they go more old school like An American Werewolf in London or The Howling. The transformation scenes in those movies still hold up today."

Hopefully, such fears can be quelled by the fact that monster maven Rick Baker (left, with Del Toro) is to provide Del Toro's makeup effects.

"We’re trying to go back to the original," avid Wolf Man fan Del Toro told JOSH HOROWITZ at MTV Movies Blog back in October. "There’s something very nostalgic about it for me. I loved all those monsters when I was a kid."

But the remake won't be all old school. As Latino Review's EL MAYIMBE stated it, when he reviewed the script way back in August '06, "The Wolf Man isn't a PG-13 [but rather is] a hard assed R...gory and violent." The story involves mystery, murder, adultery, insanity, a tragic backstory, and, of course, monsters. (Even incest! In the '41 film, Gwen was the local antique shop owner; in the new flick, she is the fiancée of Larry's brother Benjamin.)

"The script was well crafted; AKW is at the top of his game," El Mayimbe concluded. "The structure is tight, the plot is tight, the characterizations are tight, the reveals come unexpectedly and the tone of the script is extremely dark. I will say the thing to keep in mind when you see this is that nothing is ever as it seems."

Regarding the story's setting, there appears to be some confusion. Some folks think the film will be set in 1941 (the year the original picture was released), while others think the setting will be late 19th century London because (they believe) the Chaney film was set in Victorian England. In point of fact, the classic movie was shot as "contemporary" (meaning late 30's), and took place in Llanwelly, Wales. Ironically, the Welsh Hopkins will play a John Talbot who's been "de-Welshed." At any rate, El Mayimbe reported that the remake script was set in 1888, while the Wiltshire sources put the film between 1890 and 1905.

Director Romanek has set a date of February 8 to begin shooting in London. If things go as planned, Del Toro and Hopkins will film scenes in the village of Lacock, in Wiltshire, England. (Lacock Abbey is used as the exterior of Hogwart's in the Harry Potter movies.) According to KATIE ADAMS at thisiswiltshire.co.uk, the production crew wants to use the Tithe Barn near High Street as an ice house (a 19th century dead body storage), where the body of Larry's brother, Ben, would be kept. Additionally, the rear of the barn would serve as a blacksmith shop, where silver bullets would be forged. The crew also is keen to film at Castle Combe, where Stardust was shot last year.

Even this writer must admit, it sounds like a fresh and exciting updating of a truly classic horror film, and most online commentators seem to agree.

"Casting Del Toro is definitely a step in the right direction," admitted SCREAMWRITER at screamwriter.blogspot.com. "Add Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker to the mix and you start to think, maybe this won’t suck."

The Wolf Man is slated for release February 13, 2009.

[Thanks to Premiere Magazine, CHUD, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, BRIAN JACKS at MTV Movies Blog, Variety's MICHAEL FLEMING, JoBlo's MIKE SAMPSON, and SCOTT MCPHERSON at Gazette & Herald (UK).]
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