Pandora’s Box is an advisory column in which I watch a film based solely on its cover art, or box if you will, and determine whether or not it’s worth your time when you’re perusing the horror section of Instant Netflix. I do no research and watch no trailers, these films are completely and 100% unknown to me. You shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but I intend to do so with these movies. Will I uncover a glimmer of hope for my strange viewing habits or utter despair? We won’t know until I open…Pandora’s Box.
What Grabbed Me
Admittedly, not great cover art, and contrary to the principle of this column, I did know a tiny bit about the film. That tiny bit of information came during a viewing of ATM in which a freind of mine mentioned that this film has a similar plot: a group of people trapped in one place with a predator waiting in the wings on the outside. In this case though, obviously the awaiting predators were wolves, which is pretty damn cool. Judging a book by it’s cover the way I do though, I was tempted to not cover this one because of how shoddy the art is.
The film starts out pretty ominously in a old, western gold mining town called Paradise. Paradise was built in the heart of nature, and soon after gold is discovered, the town residents are being picked off one by one by packs of large wolves. Fast forward a hundred or so years and we happen upon a group of college kids who are visiting the town. As they are exploring their surroundings, one of the kids finds himself staring right into the eyes of a wolf. After running back to his friends explaining why he’s so scared, they don’t believe him. That is until they, themselves, are trapped in the town with several wolves looking for their next meal.
The film has some interesting elements to it. It explains that a once flourishing town was decimated by a pack of wolves when a city was built at the heart of nature. One of the kids finds a diary written by a young girl back when the town wasn’t deserted detailing the voracity of the wolves back then. All in all, some good stuff story wise.
Kudos go out the the filmmakers for using real wolves as opposed to some CG wolves; something they could easily have done. At times, the wolves really worked, and they truly appeared frightening. Other times, it seemed as though they were no more vicious than a docile kitten.
Thankfully, the actors are actually pretty good. Yeah, they’re cliches of characters you’ve seen in just about every horror movie, but they do pretty well with that they are given to work with. No big names to speak of, just some solid efforts out of the performances here.
Hope or Despair
This has some pretty piss poor box art, thankfully there’s a better poster on the internet that would have been more on par with the quality of the film. Based on what Netflix’s box art would lead you to believe, this box is actually FULL OF HOPE. The wolves are frustratingly passive some of the time, but there’s some really great elements of a good film here. I’d love to see what this filmmaking team (Director: John Rebel, Writers: Paul Hart-Wilden, Asabi Lee, and Roel Reiné) does on their next effort, hopefully one with more money behind it.