A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Wolf Hour is a psychological thriller -- starring Naomi Watts -- that touches upon mental illness and has an overriding sense of peril. Watts plays June Leigh, a reclusive writer who suffers from paranoia and agoraphobia. The movie is set in New York during the heatwave of 1977, when the city was besieged by the serial killer David Berkowitz or "Son of Sam." Subsequently there is a an ever present threat -- but this never materializes. However, there are some instances of brief violence. A man is beaten for failing to pay rent. A police officer beats a man to the floor with his truncheon during a riot, which also includes some looting. June smokes throughout the movie and occasionally smokes pot and drinks to excess. It is suggested that June is sexually frustrated, having avoided people for so long. She secretly watches two neighbors have sex while masturbating. She later arranges a male escort -- Billy (Emory Cohen) -- to come to her apartment and has sex with him. Billy later recounts being abused as a child. When June calls the police over concerns for her safety, a police officer suggests he can provide extra protection in return for sex. There is strong language throughout, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "piss," "goddamn," and "hell."
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What's the story?
In THE WOLF HOUR, reclusive author June Leigh (Naomi Watts) has cut herself off from society, living in a squalid apartment in a rough part of New York. With a serial killer on the loose and besieged by her paranoid thoughts, June watches from her window as a city begins to turn on itself. With her money running out, she must write a new novel, which in turn means facing her own demons.
Is it any good?
This disappointing psychological thriller fails to deliver on its initial promise. The movie has all the attributes of a tense thriller. It's set during the 1977 blackouts in New York, when the city is in the midst of a severe heat wave and the infamous serial killer "Son of Sam" has everyone on edge. The reclusive June -- a barely recognizable Watts -- is tormented by agoraphobia, unable to leave the filthy apartment she resides in. Each time June's door buzzer sounds, it comes with a sense of dread. Might it be the killer, or some other realization of her paranoia?
Unfortunately, as the movie dithers along, so does any interest. It's akin to a rollercoaster's tension-building rise to the top without the heart-racing descent. The movie's themes include mental health, race, guilt, and sex. But rather than exploring them, it simply gives them broad brushstrokes. And that is at the heart of what's wrong with the movie: There are plenty of setups, but no reward.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of mental health in The Wolf Hour. How does June's own mental health impact her life? Does it seem like a realistic portrayal? What do you know about agoraphobia?
Did the movie feel scary to you? Which parts? Why do people like scary movies?
The movie is set to the backdrop of the "Son of Sam" killings. What do you know about this period of history?
Discuss the end of the movie. Did it feel like a satisfactory conclusion? Why or why not?
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