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Film / Cry_Wolf

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Cry_Wolf is a PG-13–rated horror film from 2005.

It involves a bunch of teenagers at a secluded boarding school who, after hearing rumors about a local murder, decide to play a mass prank of sorts, using common Slasher Film tropes to invent a serial killer and spread fear throughout the campus. It turns out the joke's on them, as they begin to receive threatening messages from someone claiming to be the serial killer they invented.

The film contains a top-drawer performance from Lindy Booth as a sexpot schoolgirl. The movie also features Julian Morris, Jon Bon Jovi, Gary Cole and Jared Padalecki.

WARNING: some unmarked spoilers ahead.

For the trope, see Crying Wolf.

Contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Wolves and sheep of course. The serial killer is named 'The Wolf', the lying game separates people into 'sheep' and 'wolves', the weapon of choice is a hunting knife, Dodger dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween and her screen name has 'Bo Peep' in it.
  • Arc Words: "They're the sheep. And we're the wolves."
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Dodger gets everything she wants, exactly as she planned it.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Owen pulls this on Mr. Walker, and the patsies are the administration.
    • Dodger's whole plan is a giant Batman Gambit. So giant that it's actually a Gambit Roulette.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: In the end, the film is roughly this, though there's some variety in the shades of grey among main characters. Notably, the lightest shades are not for the main protagonist.
  • Boarding School: Nearly the entire film takes place at one.
  • Brick Joke: The scene where the group discusses previous "victims" includes a comment about the murderer hiding in the back seat of a car, which is instantly dismissed as cliché. When Owen starts up Tom's car, Mercedes is in the back seat. Bonus points for Owen's attempt to subvert another trope in character while doing so.
  • Casting Gag: Mr. Walker is played by Jon Bon Jovi. He's killed by a shot through the heart, and you're to blame. Darling, you give love a bad name.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: OK, technically it's not a Roman Catholic school, but Dodger walks squarely into this trope.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Downplayed. A couple of times we see the school janitor glaring at Owen. It turns out he's Dodger's father, but he has no role in the plot.
  • Chekhov's Hobby:
    • It's mentioned that Regina has a flair for making fake blood.
    • Lewis is described as an aspiring actor.
  • The Chessmaster: Owen makes a hobby of it. He's an amateur compared to Dodger.
  • Crying Wolf: The film carries the tagline "You lie, you die."
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Suggested by Mercedes when creating the killer. She's shot down for it being too cliche. She exploits this later when pranking Owen.
  • Death By Genre Savvy: In a way. One of the characters uses the other characters' knowledge of Horror Tropes to cause another character to kill a man she wants revenge on, making this murder by genre savvy by proxy.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Looks like Dodger had planned to frame Mr. Walker for Becky's murder from the beginning - or, at the very least, him becoming a fall guy is what eventually happened.
  • Evil Redhead: Dodger is one, hands down.
  • Exact Words: Dodger calls her mother a Dickens scholar when she introduces herself and explains how she got her name. Later, after admitting she is secretly a local scholarship student, she admits that by Dickens scholar, she meant sixth grade English teacher who teaches Charles Dickens.
  • Faking the Dead: Dodger pretends to drown in the pool to mess with Owen and Tom.
  • False Rape Accusation: Lampshaded by Owen - if Mr. Walker gets accused of it, he will be fired, no matter if there's any evidence at all or not.
  • Fille Fatale: Dodger who is in a relationship with her teacher. What's more, it's implied that she seduced him.
  • Five-Token Band: We have a Brit (Owen), a white girl (Dodger), a black guy (Lewis), an Asian girl (Regina), a Latina girl (Mercedes) and two more white dudes in Tom and Randall.
  • Gambit Roulette: Dodger's plan would have fallen apart instantly had any number of perfectly likely things happened.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: This is the case with Owen and Dodger.
  • Homage: The scene where Dodger pretends to drown in the pool is a clear homage to Friday the 13th (1980).
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Knowingly invoked, as the fictional 'Wolf' is supposed to strike on Halloween night.
  • Hot for Student: Dodger and Mr. Walker.
  • Irony: Owen had been kicked out of his previous school because he dated the principal's daughter. How about janitor's daughter for a change, Owen?
  • Karma Houdini: Dodger arranges this all so that she can be this for her part in Becky's murder.
  • Lingerie Scene:
    • The lying game at the beginning has several girls show their bras while lifting up their shirts to show they haven’t been written on with marker (the sign of the liar). Since Mercedes isn’t wearing a bra, she gets a Toplessness from the Back scene instead.
    • The Red Riding Hood outfit Dodger wears is just a cape over red underwear.
  • Meaningful Name: Dodger. As in she dodges karma.
  • Mood Whiplash: The headmaster lecturing Owen and threatening to expel him is interrupted when her preteen son races in, dressed for trick-or-treating.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Contrary to what the marketing would have us believe, Cry_Wolf is not a slasher movie (though it does intentionally employ many tropes of the genre), and its lack of graphic violence is justified. Most of the footage in the trailer is not in the movie at all and is in fact contradictory to the movie.
  • Plot Twist: Everything that happened in the film, except for Mr. Walker's death, was all part of some cruel prank on Owen that took a wrong turn. Only it wasn't.
  • Product Placement: AOL, Chrysler and Apple. Justified, in the case of Chrysler, as the film was financed as part of a contest. The story can be found on the DVD extras.
  • Pursued Protagonist: The film begins with a girl being chased through the woods and hiding from a pursuer who calls her phone so that her cellphone ringing will give her away, after which the pursuer shoots her.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some stunning shots of autumn leaves around the campus.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: Dodger has a sexy Red Riding Hood costume for Halloween.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Dodger's ICQ nick is revealed to be BoPeep05 - an obvious reference to nursery rhyme Little Bo Peep who "has lost her sheep". Which alludes to the "Wolf and Sheep" game they played. Or to her being A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.
    • It's also specifically stated in the film that the name "Dodger" is a homage to Dickens - meaning, obviously, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. It's more than just that: Dickens' Dodger is a leader of the gang of very young criminals...
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: The movie opens with a blonde getting murdered.
  • Tagline: "You lie. You die."
  • Teens Are Monsters: Since their idea of fun is to spread a rumour that a serial killer could be on the loose, only a couple of weeks after a local girl is murdered. The story gets emailed to the girl's mother. Additionally at the Halloween dance, a few people are dressed up as the Wolf in question.
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: Owen's father spends most of the movie putting his son on voicemail and dodging his calls. After Owen kills Mr Walker the father flies all the way to the police station, hugs his son sincerely and comforts him.
  • Token Minority Couple: The Beta Couple to the white Owen and Dodger are black Lewis and Latina Mercedes.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Seriously, Mr.Walker. Trying to attack an extremely unsettled gun-armed kid certainly wasn't the wisest decision. Even more so given that Owen was seemingly very reluctant to shoot, and a calm conversation could have helped.
  • Twist Ending: Combined with a repeated Genre Shift. Half an hour before the ending, the film is a somewhat melodramatic Thriller. Twenty minutes before the movie ends, it's your typical teen Slasher Movie. Ten minutes, it's April Fools' Day Gone Horribly Right. At the very end, it turns out to be a Film Noir.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Everybody except Dodger really, but Owen definitely takes the cake.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Happens quite often to Owen, who is both genuinely likable and highly amoral. He could be a Magnificent Bastard, but, as Dodger tells him, he's "too nice."
  • With Friends Like These...: All over the place. Despite being a group of friends, they seem to play tricks on each other often. This is lampshaded by Dodger after they plan their story, saying this is only possible after being together four years.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: It's only at the very end that it becomes clear this isn't a slasher film. It's a Film Noir.
  • Yandere: Dodger is this for Mr Walker.