PopScreen: TV on the Radio, "Wolf Like Me"

Dir. Jon Watts

The first thing you should observe about the video for “Wolf Like Me”—with its combination of silent-era cinema expressionism, “Thriller”-era leather jackets, and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”-era choppy animation—is how strange and incongruous it seems; the second is how much sense that combination makes for a band whose sound rolls a barbershop quartet, a dance-floor DJ, and the Pixies into one.

Of course, the fact that the video is fitting doesn’t mean that it’s good, but it certainly does make it interesting to watch. Rather than attempting to match the song’s fierce drive and energetic melody—which would prove impossible for any director—Jon Watts offers an irreverent take on its visceral lyrics of transformative regression.

We begin with a protagonist whose girlfriend is “not at all like the other girls”—perhaps because she’s Canadian, or perhaps because she bites him and turns him into a werewolf. We end in an Edenic forest that allows the strange couple to live a blissfully nude life with fellow werewolves. In between, we’re treated to some freaky visuals, some funny ones, and not nearly enough nifty dancing from the ultracharismatic band.

If this sounds a little bit like “Thriller,” well, it should: the band is clearly referencing the milestone Michael Jackson video, falling somewhere between pastiche and parody. The self-conscious (dare I say postmodern?) cannibalism of such elements makes for an interesting although not thoroughly engrossing video. While they can’t match the King of Pop visually, they’re musically so far ahead of the curve that it doesn’t matter.