Bounced around the schedules like the unloved runt of the blockbuster litter, 'The Wolfman' finally gets a release in February, as talk grows ever louder that this is one horror favourite that shouldn't have been brought back from the dead.

Following the violent death of his brother, Shakespearean actor Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) returns home to the family pile to get some answers. Waiting for him are his gun-toting father, Sir John (Hopkins), his late brother's fiancée Gwen (Blunt) and loads of talk from the locals about what happens out on the Moors when there's a full moon.

With a 16s cert and someone gutted in the very first minute, 'The Wolfman' isn't out to win younger viewers like 'The Mummy' or 'Van Helsing' - this is one for real horror fans only. And those who know their Slaughtered Lamb from their Llanwelly Village will see the merits in Joe Johnston's film where the masses would not.

Deserving of praise here are some good effects, great production design, make-up from the legendary Rick Baker ('The Howling', 'An American Werewolf in London') and an aversion to sweetening the story. Not so special are the poorly-developed characters, dips in pace and a lack of suspense.

For the acting talent assembled and a script by Andrew Kevin Walker ('Se7en') and David Self ('Road to Perdition'), 'The Wolfman' should've been a 2010 highlight. Instead, you spend most of the time wondering if a lot of this film ended up on the floor - perhaps the DVD will provide the answers.

More grumble than howl at the moon, but it has its moments.

Harry Guerin