Review: Historical Horror-Thriller "Brotherhood of the Wolf" Given a Decent New Edition from Shout! Factory

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 27, 2021

Review: Historical Horror-Thriller "Brotherhood of the Wolf" Given a Decent New Edition from Shout! Factory

Christophe Gans' "Brotherhood of the Wolf" is a bit of an anomaly in the history of French cinema, as it was France's biggest box office hit in 2001, and it drove Universal Pictures to pick up North American distribution rights for the film. The result was an extra 11.3 million dollars in limited theatrical release and a ton more in other territories across the world. Equal parts martial arts actioner, period drama, and horror film, it put Gans on the map, even as the film would continue to be loved.

For its 20th anniversary, Shout! Factory and their Scream Factory label bring "Brotherhood of the Wolf" to Blu-ray for the first time in the U.S. There's no theatrical cut included in this release, but luckily the far superior director's cut is included and has a maxed-out bitrate that makes the existing master of the film look better than previous releases. It's a bit disappointing to see that there was no restoration performed for this new collector's edition, but overall the image and sound are of decent quality. Wide shots look a bit clunky with a thick layer of grain, while mid shots and close-ups look a bit better.

In 18th-century France, Chevalier de Fronsac (Samuel LeBihan) and his Iroquois friend Mani (Mark Dacascos) are enlisted by the king to investigate a series of brutal murders in in the Geuvadan province. The killings seem to have been committed by a mysterious beast. As the duo get deeper and deeper into the mystery, they reveal a secret plot to overthrow the government.

The film's flightiness across genres is absolutely the work of a filmmaker, with just enough talent to draw from a ton of inspirations and build that vastness into the story. This is a film rooted in the uneasiness of filmmaking in the early aughts, just as digital effects were creeping in and opening up a new world. Even where the narrative falls short, the visuals more than make up for it. Gans would go on to direct "Silent Hill" (2006), which still stands out as an earlier CG-dominated horror-thriller that's also made uneasy by the vastness, and is all the better for it.

As for special features, Shout has ported over featurettes from previous releases, resulting in a nice handful of featurettes to dig into. Although nothing new was produced for this release, there's some terrific stuff here, especially in the deleted scenes with intro by Gans. How any filmmaker can actually get a movie like this produced is beyond my knowledge. In a world dominated by infinite content, works like these are necessary to remind us how adaptation and manipulation of multiple genre filmmaking forms can be successful.

Special features include:

"The Guts Of The Beast" — A Look At The Creation Of The Film From The Fight Scenes To The Digital Effects

"The Making Of 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' " — A Look Behind the Scenes

"The Legend" — A Look at the Historical Facts Behind the Legend of the Gévaudan Beast

Deleted Scenes with introduction by Christophe Gans

Theatrical Trailers

"Brotherhood of the Wolf" is now available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory.