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Film Review – Wolwedans in die Skemer

Director: Jozua Malherbe
Screenplay: Leon van Nierop
Cast: Rolanda Marais, Leila Etsebeth, David Louw, Desire Gardner, Ilse Roos, Gerard Rudolf, Andre Roothman, Riana Wilkens.
Ratings: ****** (out of 10)
Venue: Ster Kinekor Maerua Mall Cine 4

They say that when a Hadeda comes out it invites death and then the wolf comes out of its lair. A wolf suddenly appears out of no where, there is a car crash and Sonja Daneel (Rolanda Marais) arrives at the mysterious yet beautiful Hotel Njala, which belongs to a family that have more bad things going on around them than good, the Joubert family. The accident leaves Daneel with memory loss. She fails to remember everything that happened before the accident. She starts working at the hotel as the new receptionist but is still haunted by images of a hand wearing a ruby ring holding her, a casket lowered to the ground and an echoing of the words ‘the hotel will give us hope’.
The Joubert family are mysterious and secretive, Jan Joubert is a broken man, a lost soul, still in love with his first love Arista (Ilse Roos). His wife Diana is a timid, bitter woman that has lost her husband to a ghost. He never loved her the way he loves Arista. The couple have two daughters, Adele(Desire Gardner), and Maggie(Leila Estebeth) who hope to inherit the hotel one day and run it their own way. However they all have their eyes and hearts set on one man, hotel tour guide and Casanova, Ryno Lategan played by David Louw. Ryno is a carefree skirt chaser. He knows how to please a woman and is a playboy with an ulterior motive: to kill the Joubert sisters with his charm and kindness and take what he feels is rightfully his.
A series of shocking murders taunts all involved with the hotel including the guests as business starts to slow down. Dead bodies turn up in the veld and Lieutenant Nolte (Gerard Rudolf) sets out to find the person behind the murders.
The plot of the movie is great, a messed up family with more secrets and hatred for one another than hotel guests, a kill-them-with-charm casanova who has a sick and twisted obsession with his sister, a bitter old wife and two competing daughters one secretively ambitious and one that grabs the bull by the horns, all work together to make Wolwedans in die Skemer a fantastic movie. Put in a cynical and mobster look-alike Lieutenant Nolte that wears T shirt that say ‘happiness is a warm gun’ and you have yourself the perfect murder and suspense film broth.  There is just the right dose of drama, suspense, mystery and twists and turns to keep one glued to the screen from start to finish. I love how the story unfolds, the more Daneel covers her memories with a dark veil the more she discoveries her true identity and the mystery that surround the hotel and the Jouberts.
However, as much as the plot of the movie is thick, the script is not as strong and is rather dull than engaging. When I read the title of the film I thought it was a film about wolves attacking and terrorising a community or wolves having an effect on the behavior of an individual, you know the full moon wolf effect that we have seen in Hollywood block busters such as ‘Twilight’, but no! This film has nothing to do with wolves, there are sound effects of a wolf howling here and there and scenes of a wolf emerging from the bushes here and there but the wolf or wolves do nothing in the movie except for prancing around in a couple of scenes.
Not all hope is lost though, the ending is quite nice, red cape wearing murderer is revealed in Maggie, Sonja discovers that she is Arista’s and Jan Joubert’s love child and that the hotel is rightfully hers. She also remembers why she came to the hotel to meet up with her brother Ryno. It ends in murder as Adele shoots Maggie for killing their father and butchering Ryno with an axe. It is a must-watch Afrikaans drama that leaves one wanting more, but it is not a thriller in the strict sense.

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