Directed by Jeff Wadlow, starring Julian Morris, Lindy Booth, Jared Padalecki, Jon Bon Jovi, Sandra McCoy, Kristy Wu, Jesse Janzen, Paul James and Gary Cole.

Expelled from his last school after taking the blame for his former girlfriend's drugs shenanigans, English teenager Owen Matthews (Morris) is sent to one of America's top boarding schools and finds himself in with the cool people straight away.

Drawn to the vampish Dodger (Booth), Owen discovers that her gang pass the nights by taking part in a 'liars' club'. Problem is, Owen reckons, they all know each other too well to play the game properly so they need to find a new challenge.

With the local police investigating the murder of a girl from the nearby town, Owen and Dodger decide to hoax the whole school - emailing a spoof story to everyone about how the murder is the work of a serial killer who also targets students. Everyone is rattled - but the smiles are wiped off Owen and his new pals' faces when it seems as if the details in their email are coming true.

Shot for $1m and making back 10 times that in the US, 'Cry Wolf's plot is more commendable than the usual teen horror fodder, but writer-director Wadlow lets himself down by failing to make the story as powerful as it could be.

While Wadlow bravely decides to keep blood off the screen, he completely messes up the tension implicit in the storyline, with the result that the whole film feels like a madcap rush to get from beginning to end. Suspense is built up only to come tumbling down long before necessary, key scenes are too short and the biggest shock from the final twist is how badly handled it is.

Wadlow may have helped create a new hybrid genre by putting together a whodunit for the teen market, but to get his audience to stay with him he needs to give them more credit – and scares.

Harry Guerin