WEREWOLF-THE BEAST AMONG US: available on DVD and Blu Ray 22nd October

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Directed by:
Written by: , ,
Starring: , , ,

AVAILABLE ON DVD AND BLU RAY: 22nd October

RUNNING TIME: 88 mins

REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

 

Just on the outskirts of a town in Middle Europe, a family is attacked and killed by a werewolf with only the young daughter escaping with her life, though the monster is set alight by flames and returns to his human form before dying.  25 years later, the town is being terrorised by a similar beast.   Young Daniel and Eva are in love, but have to meet in secret because she is rich and he is poor.  A team of skilled werewolf hunters arrives and makes plans to trap and kill the monster, and Daniel decides to join them…..

 

I suppose I should say right at the beginning of this review that I loved the 2010 version of The Wolfman, which probably puts me in the minority.  To me it was a loving tribute to and remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney classic, had pleasing echoes of other werewolf pictures like Werewolf Of London, added some great gore, had some of the best lycanthrope rampages ever and looked absolutely fabulous.  Only some ropey performances and CGI effects let it down.  Despite all this, the film met with a bad reception from critics [who always seem ready to pounce on a film that has had production difficulties] and audiences stayed away.  It therefore seems surprising that Universal have made a second werewolf film, albeit one that has gone straight to home viewing.  I tend not to read other reviews before writing one of my own but I did quickly skim a few before reviewing Werewolf-The Beast Among Us.  The response seems to be mostly mediocre, proof that either people just expect too much from some films or are going to give something a bad review before they have even seen it.  The film attempts to be nothing more than a fun werewolf flick, and on that level succeeds quite adequately.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Werewolf-The Beast Among Us, but then again, I’m partial to werewolf pictures, even bad ones like The Howling sequels, though I think I can certainly recognise a poor one when it comes along.  This particular is certainly very flawed but should keep undemanding monster fans happy for an hour and a half. Now, despite Universal’s rumblings after the poor performance of The Wolfman that a spinoff or remake [no sorry, the word now is reboot isn’t it?!] was in the works, Werewolf-The Beast Among Us has nothing to do with the Benicio Del Toro movie, but is a totally separate story, albeit one that could very well be another adventure for the Hugh Jackman incarnation of Van Helsing.  It even has a character who seems to be deliberately similar to him in looks and manner, though he doesn’t actually have a name.  In fact, quite a few people in this film don’t have names, though some do.  Laziness?  Maybe, it’s hard to tell.  I suppose it doesn’t matter too much, though there are certainly other problems with the script.

Still, after a nicely intense opening, Werewolf-The Beast Among Us, for its first two thirds at least, should be quite pleasing if you’re a fan of old-time horror.  There’s a distinct Hammer feel here, with the town especially just like one you would expect to see Dracula’s castle looming above on a hill in the distance.  The pacing is nice and relaxed, with time being given to establishing locale and character, though maybe a little too much time is spent on matters of the romantic sort, matters which don’t all really go anywhere [little is done with a love triangle, for instance].  There’s a reasonable amount of suspense building and the werewolf is only barely seen, though when his scenes commence, the rampage sequences have little of the atmosphere and tension of those in The Wolfman.  There’s plenty of gore though, and not just from the werewolf either, with at least two exploding heads [hurrah!] and a nicely gruesome bit of business involving entrail removal, though the person having his guts removed is dead and overall I think a ‘15’ rating would have been adequate for this film, considering what some ‘15’s contain these days.  The picture is not sadistic and generally the gore adds to the fun though some may say it jars with the old-fashioned feel.

There seems to be two main types of werewolf movies. One kind, the most popular type, has the werewolf as the main protagonist, a person who is usually sympathetic.  The other kind treats the premise of lycanthropy as a mystery.  Who is it who is turning into a monster at night? This film tries to have its cake and eat it, as for the first two thirds it’s a mystery, than it reveals who the werewolf is and changes somewhat.  It’s an interesting structure, but sadly the film then tries to pack in too much and gets sillier and sillier, with a revelation about one certain character which I just laughed at.  This wouldn’t matter so much if the film was done in a tongue-in-cheek way, but it’s not and the crazy twists and turns the plot takes seem out of place in a ‘serious’ film.  There are some good ideas, but it all seems very rushed, as if they had to cut the script down to fit a certain running time.  The film remains enjoyable though and I respect any movie that has the gall to kill off characters you don’t expect to die and also has some plot surprises in store.

Of course you end up seeing more and more of the werewolf and it’s the usual unconvincing CGI effort that is very similar too, and is not much of an improvement on, those things in An American Werewolf In Paris, though the facial design is rather striking.  Sadly the film falls down on its transformation scenes too, which are so weak it’s a wonder they bothered.  Actually, here’s a better idea; why not, if you don’t have the budget or ability for good CGI, do such stuff the old-fashioned way with dissolves?  Watching a lot of the black and white Universal horrors recently, it confirmed my long-held beliefs that the older methods still often hold up, and that the obsession with doing everything on the computer is stifling creativity in special effects today.  It was nice to see some model blood and guts mixed with the CGI carnage though, and overall the film looks and sounds fairly good. Director Louis Morneau has a nice knack of using tight editing without going over the top, and Michael Wandmacher’s score certainly makes the most of just being obviously done on a synthesiser, though he’s rather too fond of those obligatory aural stings.

The acting, which includes a clearly-slumming-it-but-having-fun Stephen Rea, is a very mixed bag that is not helped by a wider variety of accents than Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.  It gives the film an almost surreal feel though I doubt that was intended.  Werewolf-The Beast Among Us is probably one of those film you can pick apart and laugh at a great deal, but I enjoyed it more than some of the comparable cinema releases this year.  It has good intentions and its slightly weird melding of the very old and the new creates an off-kilter effect which I found quite interesting.  A shame it ends up falling apart a bit, though the allocation of an extra half an hour or so within which to tell its story would have helped matters considerably.  Overall a sometimes daft but fun monster pic.  I suppose you could take half a star or even a star off if you’re not a fan of werewolf films, but in the end all reviews are influenced a little by the writer’s taste aren’t they?

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

 

DVD and Blu Ray Special Features:

.   Audio Commentary with Director Louis Morneau and Producer Mike Elliot [Blu Ray only]

·  Deleted Scenes

·   Transformation: Man to Beast

·   Monster Legacy

·   Making The Monster

About Dr Lenera 3141 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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