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’Wolfkin’ review: Dir. Jaques Molitor [FrightFest]

Also known as Kommunioun, Wolfkin sees single mother Elaine (Louise Manteau) struggle when her young son Martin (Victor Dieu) begins to behave aggressively. As incidents of him biting and scratching those around him intensify, Elaine becomes desperate for answers. With Martin’s father Patrick (Benjamin Ramon) having abandoned Elaine the instant that he discovered the pregnancy, Elaine had gone it alone. With no place else left to turn, she now has no option but to take Martin to his paternal grandparents. The pair are welcomed with open arms and it’s quickly revealed that they can help Martin, however the discovery of exactly what Martin is places Elaine in an unenviable quandary. 


Wolfkin is an excellent film. It taps into some of the great anxieties that come with being a mother. Much like films such as Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, Wolfkin taps into the anguish and distress that can arise when trying to parent a child alone. As with The Babadook’s Amelia, Elaine has always been alone with Martin and the heavy weight of raising a child has taken its toll. Whereas Amelia is too ashamed to ask for help however; as soon as Elaine realises she is out of her depth, she actively seeks it out. She’s a fiercely independent woman, but one who puts her son above everything, including her pride. 

Upon arrival at Martin’s grandparents, there’s a cordial atmosphere. The family appears to be welcoming and inclusive, yet Elaine soon finds herself on the outside looking in as Martin’s grandparents start to control the boy’s behaviour. They have their own brand of discipline and dish it out regardless of Elaine’s protests. Overbearing in-laws are not an unusual occurrence and Elaine’s plight will be all too familiar for some. There’s a lack of listening or respect given to her role of parent and her frustration is evident. As the new family starts to exert their control, Elaine is placed in a battle of wills with, not only her in-laws, but also with her son. 

It isn’t just Martin who undergoes changes during the film. As Elaine is slowly dragged into the fold, her appearance changes. Her uniform rocky and grungy appearance begins to transform into a neater and more conservative way of dressing. Towards the film’s end, Elaine is almost the mirror reflection of her mother-in-law. It’s a haunting contrast to the Elaine that is first introduced and a nod to how motherhood and responsibility forces change. The saying goes ‘we all become our parents eventually’, or in Elaine’s case, that of her ex-partner’s parents.

Although the themes and action levels are different, there’s something unexplainable about Wolfkin that is reminiscent of author Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Underworld series. Although Elaine is no Elena Michaels – she’s not a werewolf for one – there is something of a kinship between the two characters. Both characters are unknowingly brought into the drama of the world of lycanthropy and have to deal with the life-shattering changes that this brings. This sensation of similarity continues within the dynamic of Elaine and Patrick. We only briefly see the pair, together but there’s a strong sense of passionate but doomed romance about them. Patrick also appears to have that same ferocious loyalty that Elena’s love-interest Clay has in the books and his presence is felt throughout much of the film even though he isn’t there. 

Wolfkin has a lovely aesthetic to it. DirectorJacques Molitor and Cinematographe Amandine Kleer do some excellent work at setting up the differences between the film’s primary locations. There’s the vast and vibrant nature in which we are first introduced to Elaine and that which lurks outside the property. Then there’s the urban flat where Elaine and Martin live. Its small space exacerbates Elaine’s sense of the walls closing in and helps force her decision to reach out. The final location is that of the Manor House where Martin’s grandparents reside. In spite of its size, the structure feels even tighter than Elaine’s house, riddled with sharp twisting staircases, and it’s all rather dark. 

An oversight for UK audiences is the English language title, Wolfkin. It gives away key information that the film itself tries to hide for much of the narrative. Some of the mystery of the piece is lost in a bid to draw in viewers, and whilst it doesn’t take too much away from the film, it does dilute the impact a little. The original language title of Kommunioun is far more enigmatic, tying instead into the family’s strong religious beliefs. The softening of the more mysterious elements thankfully does not prevent Wolfkin from being an exceptional tale of maternal nightmares and family obligations. The perfect viewing partner for Good Manners, Wolfkin has an abundance of atmosphere and parental trauma. A haunting and melancholy film Wolfkin is set to enthral all that lay eyes upon it. 


Kat Hughes



Nestling nicely between The Babadook and Good Manners, Wolfkin presents another excellent analysis of motherhood in horror.


Wolfkin was reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2022.    

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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