*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was written by LiliRoze.
The movie opens in Blackwood England, 1890s. A woman’s voice reads the curse of the wolfman as the scene opens up on a beautiful full moon.
A series of scenes occur quickly through shadows, the moon, and the woods, and it is obvious a man is attacked.
Cut to Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) is writing a letter to Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) regarding the disappearance of his brother, Ben, who is also Gwen’s fiancé. Gwen writes that although she is aware that Lawrence has been gone for many many years, she would like for him to return to Talbot Manor and help search for Ben.
Lawrence is an actor on the stage, and although he travels extensively, he returns to his boyhood home immediately.
Lawrence steps out of the coach and enters the Manor, and we see it is in terrible disrepair. Broken furniture, dirt and cobwebs litter the front hall, leading to a large central staircase. As Lawrence enters and begins to ascend the stairs, a large dog growls menacingly and nearly attacks him. The dog is stopped by a man’s voice at the top of the stairs.
Lawrence looks up and says “hello father.” Anthony Hopkins appears as Sir John Talbot. He greets Lawrence rather coolly by saying, “I wonder what you looked like.” Sir John has to calm the dog many times throughout the next 5 minutes -- it is obvious the dog is vicious.
The hall is decorated with many trophy killings -- lions, Bengal tigers, wild boars, antlers and hooves hung everywhere. As Sir John brings Lawrence into the drawing room, Lawrence sees an old man wearing a turban (a Sikh) and greets him as “Singh” (Art Malik). Singh knew Lawrence as a boy and has served the Manor all these years.
Lawrence notes with tension that he has returned because Gwen has asked him to help find Ben, his brother. Sir John answers that there is no need, that Ben’s body was found yesterday in a ditch not far from the manor.
Lawrence is obviously more startled by this news than Sir John. Singh offers Lawrence comfort, and Lawrence asks to see Gwen. Sir John says she is resting upstairs.
Lawrence goes to the morgue -- a dark, dirty place, to see his brother’s body. The undertaker advises against it, but Lawrence mentions how he has not seen his brother in a lifetime, so the undertaker allows it. Lawrence pulls back the sheet and reveals a masticated, mutilated body.
The undertaker hands Lawrence Ben’s personal effects, noting that Sir John had asked that they be buried with Ben. The Undertaker thinks this is a waste and wants Lawrence to take them. He does.
Lawrence goes to the local tavern. He is nursing a drink and turning a coin-like medallion around in his hand. On the medallion is a woman surrounded by 3 dog-like creatures. He listens as the scared villagers talk of the mutilated body (none of them know Lawrence, and are unaware it was his brother who was killed). They speak of creatures and dogs, and one man mentions the gypsy camp, and the trained bear they use to entertain in their shows. Perhaps it is the bear killing people.
A lone man in a corner speaks up and gets everyone’s attention. He says it can’t have been the bear, because 25 years ago he witnessed mutilated and clawed bodies similar to this round of killings -- done by a creature of immense strength and huge claws. He says that after that night, his father returned home and melted down his mother’s silver wedding spoons and made bullets from them, then never left the house at night.
The villagers take this theory with a grain of salt, leaning more toward the escaped lunatic / gypsy bear theories.
Lawrence returns to the Manor and finds Gwen. They speak of Ben and he gives her Ben’s effects -- a lion head’s ring, and miniature of herself. (The medallion is absent.) Gwen thanks him and he asks how she is, staying at the Manor. It is clear Sir John is a lonely and strange man, and Gwen says she has learned to tolerate him -- that Ben always told her it was because she looked like their deceased mother. She notes that Lawrence favors the mother too, and implies that it is why Sir John is so distant from him, as well.
That night, Lawrence enters the room that he had shared with his brother as a boy, and he has a flashback of a memory. The two boys, about 7 and 8 years old, are alone in their room at night, and Ben wakes Lawrence because a noise has frightened him. Lawrence goes to investigate.
Wandering through the house, he leaves and enters the garden, and is soon following a trail of blood drops. He finds his father, cradling his mother’s body. Her throat is sliced, and there is a straight razor in her hand.
The next day is the funeral for Ben. Gwen thanks Lawrence again for returning to help find Ben (although it was too late), and Lawrence says he is glad he did, and will stay to help figure out what happened to his brother.
The next day, he and Gwen go for a walk, and they reach a brook in the forest. Lawrence mentions it was he and Ben’s favorite refuge. Gwen asks from what, and Lawrence says from their father. He goes on to say that their mother was beautiful and how after their mother’s death, Lawrence was sent to an asylum for a year, then sent to live with an aunt in the States, where he grew up.
With the funeral over, Gwen has little reason to stay, and she returns to London.
That night, Lawrence goes back to the Gypsy camp, since the villagers had mentioned the attacks seemed to occur whenever their troupe was in town. He shows the medallion and asks if they know where Ben would have gotten it, and they immediately send him to Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin). She is very old and mystic, and she speaks to him in riddles. He gets upset and says he knows the attacks have occurred when the troupe was in town.
Suddenly there is a commotion outside, and there are villagers running around, men have been attacked and killed. Lawrence runs out and sees this commotion and tries to help. As he notices an odd shape in the forest, he focuses on it and sees a young boy being chased. Grabbing his rifle from his horse, he runs off on foot. After getting the boy to safety, he is attacked by the creature, bitten fiercely in the shoulder / neck area. The creature is shot and runs off, and Lawrence is taken to the Gypsy camp, where Maleva stitches his wounds. A young Gypsy woman warns Maleva that it is best to let him die, that to let him live will curse them all. Maleva mentions it is a sin to kill a man. The young woman says it is not a sin to kill a beast, and Maleva asks, “where does the man end and the beast begin?”
Lawrence is taken back to the Manor and lies recovering, and has horrible delusions. He wakes after many days to find Gwen at his bedside, and he is happy she has returned. She says she feels responsible for his wounds since he was helping learn about Ben’s death. It is obvious they have a connection between them. The doctor examines him and finds him surprisingly well healed.
The next day Lawrence notes his wound in the mirror, and is a little surprised by the appearance of how well it has healed, and also that the wound resembles claw marks. An inspector from Scotland Yard arrives to look into the killings -- Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving). Since Lawrence survived an attack by the lunatic, Abberline is very interested in Lawrence, and notes the “quickness” of his recovery and asks if his own doctors can examine him.
When the Inspector mentions the stay in the asylum when Lawrence was a boy (and implies it has to do with the lunatic out killing people) Lawrence slyly mentions that he knows something personal about the inspector too -- that a few years ago he had led the Ripper investigations. Abberline clearly takes umbrage at the implication that he botched the investigation.
The next day Lawrence is out walking and Gwen joins him. They have a nice moment together as he teaches her to skip rocks on the pond. Suddenly Lawrence hears horses approaching, and the local priest has arrived with a posse of men, including the Inspector’s doctor. They call Lawrence cursed and unusually healed, and try to take him away by force while the priest rambles on about curses and such. Sir John appears with a hunting rifle and scares them off.
Gwen is very upset, and notes Lawrence’s lip is bleeding. She brings him inside and starts to tend to him. He is definitely attracted to her, and she is beginning to feel for him as well. He starts to concentrate on her pulse, and her voice sounds strange to his ears, and although you think he wants to kiss her, there is something else strange, and it frightens him.
That night, Singh is in his room and Lawrence is talking with him, asking why he has stayed all these years with Sir John when he didn’t have to. Singh cleans his rifles and speaks of his Sikh religion, and Lawrence asks if he believes in curses. Lawrence then notices Singh has silver bullets made for his rifle and he asks Singh if he believes in monsters.
Lawrence is clearly concerned and goes to Gwen’s room and wakes her, telling her she must go to London immediately, that night. When she asks why, he says that he could never forgive himself if something happened to her. It is clear Gwen is confused but trusts him, and she goes.
Late that night, Lawrence takes a rifle and follows his father when he sees him leave the Manor. Sir John goes into a crypt on the property that has his mother’s body in it. He kisses the image of his dead wife as he passes by into an underground chamber.
Lawrence follows and finds himself in a small room lit with candles, a leather chair with straps, and a mini-shrine to his mother. Sir John appears and starts telling Lawrence how much he loved the mother, and how he has been “dead” since she died. He then says Lawrence is about to learn something about himself, adding that he thinks the villagers will be quite interested. He then leads a confused Lawrence out of the small room, and shuts a door. He has bolted himself inside the small chamber, and Lawrence is outside it.
Lawrence goes to walk back up the stairs when the moon appears high in the sky, and in that instant he begins to transform into a wolf. This pleases Sir John. The wolf runs into the forest just outside the village, where some men have set a trap, baited by a deer. The wolf/ Lawrence falls into the pit they have dug, but proceeds to tear the men apart who try to hold him. He escapes easily, but many men are dead.
The next morning Lawrence awakens outside his home under a tree, and Sir John is there grinning at him. Lawrence is covered in blood, his clothes shredded. As he begins to realize what has happened it is obvious Sir John is reveling in it. The villagers come for Lawrence and Sir John does not stop them this time. Lawrence surrenders, still in a stupor.
Lawrence is taken to the same asylum he had been in as a boy, and the doctor remembers him, stating there have been many advances in treatments since then (yeah, right). They proceed to inject him with drugs and torture and electrocute him in an effort to cure him. Lawrence ends up babbling incoherently. Days pass.
When he finally becomes lucid, Sir John is visiting in his cell. He begins to ramble on about how he was always sorry that Lawrence had come upon him and his mother that night, how he wished it had never happened. Then he tells a story of how he had heard of a lycanthrope many, many years ago, and he and his friends (being great hunters) went in search of one that was rumored to live in a cave in a far away place. While alone, Sir John found the cave, and inside was a feral boy. The boy bit him in the arm, and he returned to his camp and friends thinking it had all been a silly wild goose chase.
When he returned home that night, he transformed and ripped out his wife’s throat -- that was the scene Lawrence had stumbled upon -- not the mom’s suicide, but Sir John in wolf form over the dead body of his mother.
Lawrence (chained in the cell still) is beside himself, threatening to kill Sir John. Sir John continues by saying that all these years since then, Singh has faithfully locked him in the basement cell whenever the moon was full.
When Ben got engaged to Gwen, Sir John was stunned by how much she looked like the mother, and he was attracted to her, and it seemed to “awaken” him again. When Ben said he would move away with Gwen, Sir John couldn’t stand the thought of it, so he got drunk and angry one night and he was so belligerent when Singh went to lock him up that Sir John managed to escape, and that is the night he killed Ben. He goes on to tell Lawrence how he admires the “freedom” Lawrence had to run and kill. He then leaves Lawrence a “gift.” It is a straight razor so he can kill himself, and Sir John leaves, with Lawrence screaming that he is going to kill him for what he has done.
The doctors then bring a bound and gagged Lawrence into a theater-room, where all the psychiatrists gather round. The lead doctor is going to prove Lawrence is cured of his delusions -- they are all going to sit in the room as the moon goes full and prove to Lawrence that he will not become a monster. Inspector Abberline manages to sneak in the back.
When they remove the gag, Lawrence warns them that he will kill them all. They don’t listen. As the doctor begins to expound upon his fantastic treatments, the moon begins to rise. Lawrence transforms in front of everyone and breaks his bonds, and panic ensues. Thankfully, the doctor gets it good (as in “dead”) before Lawrence escapes out the window. The Inspector has now witnessed it all, and is determined to stop it.
The next morning Lawrence awakens, again bloody and in shredded clothes. He realizes he is near London, and goes to find Gwen. As soon as she sees him, he tells her everything about the Wolf and also about Sir John killing both his mother and brother. She wants to help him. He tries to leave and she stops him, begging him to stay. They kiss just as there is a knock on the door. It is Abberline looking for Lawrence with a team of police.
They search the house, but Lawrence has already escaped. Making his way on foot, he is going back to the Manor to kill his father. Meanwhile, Gwen is determined to break the curse. She studies books on Lycanthropy and finds the gypsy Maleva. She asks Maleva to tell her how to help Lawrence. Maleva looks hopeful and asks, “you love him?” it is obvious Gwen does, and Maleva says, “You must either condemn him or release him. Do you understand?” Gwen says she does, and Maleva begins to pray for Gwen, that she will have the strength to do what is needed.
Meanwhile, Lawrence is walking and walking, back to the Manor. The Inspector has surrounded the Manor with police and procured silver bullets. Gwen is galloping there on her horse.
Lawrence arrives at night and sneaks into the manor, and immediately finds the faithful Singh, gutted. He goes to Singh’s room and finds the silver bullets and loads them into a rifle. He confronts his father in the parlor. Sir John is clearly crazy and has also killed one of the police guards.
Lawrence tells Sir John he has come to kill him, and Sir John asks if the rifle contains silver bullets. He is proud when Lawrence says yes. He dares his son to shoot him and when Lawrence pulls the trigger, he learned that Sir John had found the bullets years ago and emptied them of their powder.
A fight ensues with Sir John transforming right away. Lawrence takes longer, and takes a pretty good beating. Finally, wolf/Lawrence throws wolf/Sir John into the fireplace, and then decapitates him.
The Manor now on fire, the Inspector and Gwen arrive inside together. Gwen stops the Inspector from shooting Lawrence. The Inspector is injured by wolf/Lawrence.
Gwen runs outside with the Inspector’s gun. She runs to the place where she and Lawrence often met, and she is calling to him, reminding him of who she is and who he is. She wants to help him. As wolf/Lawrence gets closer, he pauses and you can see the recognition in his eyes.
At that moment, the police close in and wolf/Lawrence is distracted. Gwen takes the gun and shoots him. As he dies, he reaches out to her and transforms back to a man. She holds him and tells him she is sorry. He smiles and thanks her, then dies.
The Inspector, covering his wolf-inflicted wounds with a kerchief, stands back and watches Lawrence die.