Time of the Wolf

Time of the Wolf ★★★

Michael Hanake’s films tend to thrive most when they remove the characters from their comfort area, so there’s something so tantalising about the guy tackling the end of the world. Sadly it appears to be too good to be true. 

It opens true to Hanake’s form, a family arrive at their holiday home, immediately unpacking the stuff from the car. But something isn’t quite right, they aren’t so much taking suitcases as they are boxes and bags filled with food, with talk of enough supplies to last. Once in the home, an altercation with a family seeking refuge in the home turns swiftly violent, leaving the wife and two children locked outside fending for themselves.

The true nature of the collapse of civilisation is never made apparent, outside of talk around contaminated water supplies and widespread purging of livestock. It’s clear Hanake is more concerned around what remains of the people in the situation, there remaining sense of law and order, just and unjust. The problem is, whilst characters feel lifted out of their cosy bubble into a harsh new reality, the sense that everything has been turned upside down doesn’t quite land when everything and everyone remains in the same boat. Hanake’s films relish in punishment towards the central characters, but the real harrowing horror comes from how insignificant their torment is against the backdrop of a continually spinning world. Here everyone kinda just blends into one big interchangeable misery conga.

And despite this being one of Hanake’s most nihilistic films, the end result can’t deny being hopeful. That even without your material needs, the violence of others and the dangerous of unjust fringe communities, we all remain in it together. It’s just a beat that feels like it grinds against the complete mechanisms of Hanake’s beliefs, a makeshift scenario where his ultimate cruelty is to be kind, it doesn’t quite ring true and it something that has been said far better in other films.