Directed by William Brent Bell
A wife, husband and their young son are camping in the French countryside when they’re attacked by a ferocious creature emerging from the woods. As her husband and son are torn to shreds, the wife somehow manages to survive despite receiving serious injuries. She reports to the police on how a huge, hairy man killed her family and realising that they should be looking for a man rather than an animal, they arrest tall, hirsute loner Talan. French-American lawyer Kate Moore arranges with Talan’s mother to be his defence attorney and tries to dig deeper into Talan’s life to prove he didn’t kill the Porter family. Suspecting Talan has a medical condition which leaves him with stiff, painful joints and unable to move, Kate requests a transfer to a medical facility where doctors will perform tests to prove whether or not he has the crippling condition.
Directed by William Brent Bell, WER shakes up the werewolf genre with its captivating tale that grounds itself in reality rather than the fantasy, caricaturish werewolves we’re used to from other movies in recent years. With the horrific murder of the father and child at the beginning of the movie, the situation involving the arrest of Talan is conveyed using television news reports before the film finally settles into a standard pattern using regular camera work and a bit of police station CCTV thrown in for good measure. A.J. Cook stars as Talan’s attorney, Kate Moore, who enlists researcher Eric (Vik Sahay) and animal specialist Gavin (Simon Quarterman) to work alongside her in the defence investigation. Getting information from accused loner Talan (Brian Scott O’Connor) is easier said than done with his intimidating yet quiet demeanor and so Moore must use the skills of her team to find out every little bit of background on the case and Talan’s family to create a solid defence for her client. However, French police investigator Klaus Pistor (Sebastian Roché) is convinced Talan is the culprit and so the medical examination is the only way to prove whether Talan was able to kill the Porter family or not.
Rather than having a snarling beastie, the werewolf element in this film is rather more human based with superhuman elements. When the inner werewolf is unleashed, there’s a slight transformation on the outside, such as shoulder joints popping, but most of it remains human whilst the extraordinary feats of strength, involving smashing skulls and throwing police officers out of windows, are displayed. Towards the end of the movie, there’s a nice little segment that sees the werewolf running as a human would before taking to all fours and running like a wolf with increased speed to match. These little things make WER a much more believable story than what we’re used to and gives the entire film a found-footage feel to it even though it isn’t one of those types of films.
Is the film scary? Not really, but there are plenty of moments that will leave you holding your breath as you anticipate what will happen next. The FX work in the film is remarkable and the bodies, well, what’s remains of the bodies, of the Porter family are brutally lifelike and stomach-churning to look at. In terms of the overall horror, WER conjures up some great set pieces though there’s a thread of the film that is blindingly obvious from the beginning but the way it is executed is great even if a little predicatable.
WER offers werewolf fans something new to sink their teeth into that differentiates itself from other werewolf films. It’s thrilling and manages to maintain a quick pace that will never leave you bored. If I could liken this to another, I’d say WER does for werewolves like what [REC] did for zombies, in the sense that it brings a realism factor that we’ve not seen before. Definitely worth a watch.