“The Accidental Wolf” – Knocking on her door [MOVIE REVIEW]
by Neely Swanson
“The Accidental Wolf,” written and directed by Arian Moayed, is a hybrid in many ways. Part thriller, part psychological drama, part family crisis, part conspiracy theory, “The Accidental Wolf” explores all of these aspects through the eyes of Katie Bonner, a wealthy Manhattan housewife and new mother.
The world of Katie and her workaholic attorney husband Brad is upended one evening when Katie receives a call from Africa that was meant for someone else. In the background she hears screaming, gun fire, and pleas for help. Rapt, she stays on the line in order to try and determine who is calling and to whom they were trying to be connected. She hears a name and with that slight bit of information she goes on a hunt.
Katie is dissatisfied with how things are going. Her husband is never home, her life is endless child rearing and lunches. When she makes it her mission to try to find the woman who was on the other end of that phone call, she becomes obsessed. The day after the phone call, she and her husband receive a visit from the police and an investigator who do their best to assuage all of Katie’s worries. The phone call was, without a doubt, an African phishing scam for money. She should just let everything drop. How did they know about that call?
But Katie can’t let go. She becomes more convinced than ever that there is a dark conspiracy centered in Africa. This obsession intensifies the fissures in her marriage, a marriage where her only job is to look and act presentable to Brad’s clients. Soon they are separated.
Everyone is against Katie, including her mother. Katie seems to be losing her grip, but the private investigator she has hired to try to find the woman on the phone turns up promising evidence, until he too is hounded by governmental agents.
Is Katie imagining all of this? Is it a scam? Or, worse, is it a government cover up of misdeeds in Africa that resulted in death and destruction? Katie is trapped in a cage of her own making.
“The Accidental Wolf” was originally released as a short form drama in 2017. Topic Streaming service has reimagined this original series into chapters, each centering very much on Katie. With Mike Doyle as Katie’s duplicitous husband Brad Bonner, the rest of the cast reads like a who’s who of Broadway Tony Award-winning actors including Laurie Metcalf, in a mysterious opening scene; Denis O’Hare as the shadowy private investigator; Judith Ivey as Katie’s mother; Reed Birney as Katie’s father; and Jayne Houdyshell as the Bonner marriage counselor. First and foremost, however is Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara as Katie. She was nominated for an Emmy for this role in its original short form. Kellie is suitably complex in the role of a woman who may be on to something everyone is trying to hide, or she maybe psychologically disturbed. O’Hara rides that line remarkably well.
The story is a bit slow to build the tension organically, feeding us too much dark state and too little reason at the beginning. We are forced to rely on Kelli’s intense facial expressions to indicate that there is something amiss since the script gives her very little help. As the story proceeds, however, the tension starts to build; but again, much of it due to O’Hara’s fine performance.
Premiering November 26 on Topic.com.