Reviewed by: Joe Mossman
Wolves aren’t scary, right? They’re just big dogs, really, and they’re usually more frightened of us than we are of them. Just make some noise and they’ll run away, sure they will. Fire a gun into the air, rev your SUV’s engine, shine some spotlights on ‘em, and you’ll be fine.
Of course, if you’re a sheep herder living in the Middle Ages, with no electric lights or perimeter fencing and only axes to defend yourself and your family, you might have a bit of a problem. And if there’s a Wolf Spirit who’s been waiting for the stars to align so she can take revenge on Man for killing her children, you might just be doomed.
Night of a 1000 Wolves begins in the Scandinavian countryside, with Harrick Benjyon and his family herding their sheep and making a hard, but more or less, contented life for themselves. With them is Benjyon’s father-in-law Jonus Tine, your typical crazy old coot with wild white hair, who looks at the sky one morning and begins raving about sacrifices to “appease Nagbre,” the Wolf-Mother. Harrick thinks nothing of it, even when the wolves start to appear, bold and aggressive. It’s only when a terrible tragedy befalls the family that Harrick begins to realize Tine may be right…and by then it might be too late.
Writer Bobby Curnow claims he was inspired to write Wolves by his own paternal fears, the nightmare of a man who suddenly has to defend his wife and children against some outside attack. And a nightmare it is. There is a gradual, escalating sense of dread, of things just getting worse instead of better, of each new horror eclipsing the last. The Benjyon family is alone, seemingly in the middle of nowhere and ill-equipped to deal with the crisis as it escalates from one nasty encounter into an onslaught. Curnow also touches on the often bizarre tendency of families to keep secrets from one another with (literally) suicidal zeal, particularly between generations (Tine dislikes his son-in-law so much, he refuses to tell him what he needs to know to stop the wolves).
This is not really about character development, though. At its heart, Night of 1000 Wolves is pure survival horror, the setting and theme refreshingly original. A welcome change from the usual modern-day zombie apocalypses. Dave Wachter’s art is absolutely stunning in the green, rolling hills of the Benjyon Family’s home as well as in the ugly, rabid viciousness of the wolves and the violence they inflict. And there is violence; the tragedy the family endures is shown in brutal, unflinching detail. It’s meant to pull at your instincts, to evoke a visceral, emotional reaction, and it succeeds beautifully.