Directed by Paul Hyett
Screened at Grimmfest 2015
A train journey from London to Eastborough goes horribly wrong when an obstruction on the tracks forces the train to stop next to a forest during the middle of the night. When the train driver (Sean Pertwee) goes to investigate but never returns, young train guard Joe (Ed Speelers) is convinced by the passengers to walk to the next station a couple of miles away. The plan sounds like a good idea until they discover that something is lurking in the woods and that it has an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Scrambling for their lives, the train workers and passengers must work together if they’re to survive the werewolves clawing at their door.
The Seasoning House‘s Paul Hyett is back with an absolute blast of a werewolf flick, HOWL. The film starts off with young train guard Joe being rejected for a supervisor’s job and having to put up with snotty, demanding passengers of all ages. When the train stops in the middle of nowhere, he must be the shining light and lead the passengers to safety but that’s easier said than done when your enemies are tall, muscular beast-like creatures who’s sharp teeth and claws could rip you apart with utter ease.
Rather than be a straight horror film (we’ve had plenty of those), HOWL combines horror with humour to provide one hell of an entertaining flick. The humour is quite often dry with the passengers’ reactions to their terrifying situation providing many of the laughs. One of the great things about the film, it’s humour and why it works so well is that all of the characters feel real – they’re actually personas you’d be likely to meet on the train. There’s a business woman, a teenage glue glued to her mobile phone, a bookworm and even a kebab-loving footie fan. Even Doug from Emmerdale puts in an appearance as husband Ged to wife Jenny. All of these are characters Joe must manage and keep sweet when the train journey goes sour and we all know how picky and critical grumpy passengers can be!
As director Paul Hyett is mostly known for his make-up effects prior to his directorial debut The Seasoning House, you can expect to see some interesting werewolf creations from his team. The look of the creatures seems to be a mixture of Dog Soldiers and 80’s hair metal bands with the wolves often taking on the appearance of their host’s body. They don’t quite terrify in appearance but their presence is forceful enough to make you want to barracade the doors and prevent them from coming anywhere near you.
HOWL is a tightly packaged flick, chock full of fun with terrific performances from all involved, that doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. It manages to balance tension and fear in the atmospheric, claustrophobic train scenes with action and laughs to provide an entertaining slice of lycanthrope horror. Hardcore genre fans may be left wanting a bit more out of this film but if you enjoy it for what it is, you’ll have a whale of a time.