Local film "Wolf House" set to make its debut at the Riv

MIA SUMMERSON/CONTRIBUTER The cast and crew of “Wolf House” pose in front of the Riviera Theatre prior to the movie’s premiere. From left, Marcus Ganci-Rotella, who plays the role of Alan, Ken Cosentino, Liz Houlihan, Bill Kennedy and director Matt Lord.

Niagara Falls filmmaker Ken Cosentino said he’s always wanted to see one of his movies played at the Riviera Theatre and on Wednesday his dream will be coming true when his latest movie premieres at the North Tonawanda landmark.

“Wolf House” is the story of a camping trip in rural Niagara County that goes very wrong when the campers become trapped in a house with the titular wolf-like creatures. The film, released by White Lion Studios, is shot using the found footage style and will make it’s debut during the annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, which runs Friday through April 18. 

“It’s about these six friends who go on a camping trip in Hartland. Unofficially, it’s a werewolf movie” said Cosentino, who wrote, produced and starred in the movie. “It’s never determined in the movie what (the monster) is.” 

Writing for “Wolf House” began in the summer of 2013 and went into production in October 2013, wrapping the following spring. The delay, Cosentino said, was because of the nine months he spent putting together the fulling animatronic monster costume for the film, with the help of local robotics technician Fred Calandrelli. The editing process was completed in its entirety by May 2014. 

Though only working with a $5,000 budget, the team made sure to invest what they did have into providing the most terrifying imagery possible. Along with building the monster costume, Cosentino put to work his personal knowledge of special effects to make things look realistic. The talent won him an award for a previous movie, “Within,” from the Buffalo Screams International Film Festival. He shares the award with “Wolf House” director Matt Lord. 

“The best thing about this movie is that you don’t see this type of film done on a regular basis,” said actor Bill Kennedy, whose character sets the scene for the film by discussing the implied death of a relative who was killed on the trip. “The found footage, it’s more guerrilla-style, gung-ho, like here it is, real people doing real things, with the illusion that we’re just walking around with a camcorder just having fun.” 

Liz Houlihan, who plays Donna MacAdams in the movie, said she feels that many “found footage” films have abandoned that gritty, authentic home movie feel. “Wolf House,” however, has remained true to the style and really feels like just “a dude with a camera,” she added. 

After its completion, “Wolf House” was sent to a number of “tier-one” film festivals, even getting a few bites from distributers, though so far nothing has panned out. Cosentino said he’s still hopeful, noting that the popular found footage film, “Paranormal Activity,” played at festivals for years before being nationally released. 

“I like found footage movies, if they’re done the way we do it, because it still leaves the door open for all kinds of weird, creepy stuff in the world,” Houlihan said. “Working in this genre, this was the hardest thing, yet, that I’ve done, acting like you’re not acting.” 

Part of the promotion of the film, in a way, has been not promoting it. To keep consistent with the idea that the events of “Wolf House” are supposed to appear as if it really did happen, the cast and crew all say they’ve made a point to not say much about the film, to keep the illusion alive. 

“Wolf House” will premiere at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda. General admission is $10, or $5 for seniors, students and veterans. Tickets are being sold online at the Riviera’s website or at the box office. Any remaining tickets will be available for purchase at the door. 

“It all worked out, it’s always been a dream of mine to play at the Riviera,” Cosentino said. “It’s just a great place.” 

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