Crying game

Rated 3.0

A handful of bored high school students at an elite boarding school indulge in a whisper campaign (a kind of cell phone-based version of the grade school game Telephone) that uses as a springboard the recent off-campus murder of a cute, young townie. Of course, this being marketed as a straightforward horror flick for mall rats, evidence begins to build that the actual killer is reading the Instant Messages and is preparing to act on them…

By no means a straight-forward horror flick, Cry Wolf still manages to work within the bounds of its PG-13 straitjacket and at least deliver with a moderately clever “Who is it?” suspenser. Any armchair scenarist worth his or her cinematic salt will put pretty much all the pieces of the jigsaw together with the overabundance of foreshadowing (the premise and the film’s title give you everything you know to work from the end back to the beginning … especially with one character opening their mouth and essentially copping out), but the kids each other in the darkened recesses of the theater with moment-to-moment theories on the identity of the antagonist will either find it a refreshing mind-fuck, or get pissed off and call it a cheat (I recall a similar reaction to a certain mid-'80s holiday-themed horror film that shares the same twist).

Delivered on a modest budget, Cry Wolf still manages to look as good as anything else offered made at exorbitant costs, with the only “name” star being, ahem, Jon Bon Jovi, and while the rest of the 20-something cast looks a little long in the tooth to be believable as high school students, they still manage to be at least effective in their roles (although star Julian Morris comes across as a bargain basement Elijah Wood).

Unfortunately, while the narrative may chug along adequately as the movie progresses, all internal logic deflates with the unveiling of the plot mechanizations. Still, a perfectly serviceable matinee entry for the fall days leading up to Halloween.