The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - RISING WOLF | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - RISING WOLF

rising wolf review
A young woman finds herself trapped in a high rise elevator.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Antaine Furlong

Starring: Charlotte Best, Susan Prior, Jonny Pasvolsky, Alex Menglet, Andrew Jack

rising wolf poster

She wakes from her beach dream, bound and gagged, and we watch her struggle to free herself, before she realises it’s futile, and instead just stands and waits for an explanation about her predicament. This is Aria (Charlotte Best), and we are as in the dark about her circumstances as she is.

It seems she’s in an elevator in some sort of high-rise building, and the rapid descent that we watch her experience appears particularly designed to injure.

Luckily for Aria, it’s quite a luxurious elevator, and she has plenty of space to move around in. No urine-scented tin can for this girl!

It looks like the building has been abandoned - hazard tape and door-space-covering garbage bags flap in the breeze; red lights flicker on and off as she works to find an escape from the elevator car. She finds her own phone and listens to a message that seems to indicate that her family have been killed and she has been kidnapped.

rising wolf review

Through various protracted flashbacks we learn that younger Aria and her missing sister Zara, had some sort of connection to nature that gave them special powers when they were children.

She speaks to a mysterious person called Uncle Jack on her phone, finds out her family were in the witness protection program, and that her father works for the CIA, before she is interrupted by big screen projections that show her father (Jonny Pasvolsky) being tortured  as she looks on.

The torture grows ever more grim as he holds out on answering his interrogators, the big man in power (Andrew Jack) deciding to remove parts of her father‘s body as we watch.

It turns out that the torturers want to locate someone whom Aria’s father helped to hide, and they are willing to do anything to find this person.

The film from this point comprises of Aria’s flashbacks that flesh out the story and take us from that elevator car, escalating and prolonged torture scenes, and Aria’s search for escape.

rising wolf review

As written and directed by Antaine Furlong, this is another film that is overlong; filling itself with a convoluted plot and not much of interest to look at for large sections. With its one location and innumerous flashbacks that at times just add more confusion (at least until the ending makes things clearer), this feels messy. The acting is very good and certainly elevates the material with lead Best, who does most of the heavy lifting, certainly not holding anything back and proving most impressive. Also notable are Pasvolsky, Jack as the Russian heavy and Tahlia Sturzaker as young Aria - all give strong performances.

Unfortunately, even though this is an Australian production, they decided to make the characters American and so the actors are saddled with phony American accents. I’m assuming this is designed to help the film appeal to American audiences, but they never sound anything but fake. Not to mention that the way the children talk during the flashbacks is ridiculously over the top, the words they say far too mature to ever come from a child.

The torture scenes are explicit and unpleasant so that watching them becomes an exercise in endurance, and after a while even they lose their impact due to over-saturation.

The special effects are very good, and the direction by Furlong shows a nice sense of style; it’s the script and its lack of clarity or a discernible arc that are the problem.

rising wolf review

In the end, it seems that they are heading for a sequel, and I think that actually wouldn’t be a bad idea. If they can learn from the mistakes of the first film, and give the sequel a chance to breathe, expand beyond the walls of that elevator car and concentrate on the relationship between the sisters, it could actually be a good film; one that I would watch, particularly with the production values that are on display in this movie.

The concepts and ideas explored here could have led to an interesting and quite beautiful film, I see flashes of it in some scenes, and in between the torture it does have a sweet earnestness and heart – things that are sorely lacking in many films these days; but on the whole it’s disappointing in its missed opportunities.

Rising Wolf is on VOD now.

2021 movie reviews