Monday, May 13, 2013

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)

Director: Louis Morneau                              Writers: Michael Tabb & Catherine Cyran
Film Score: Michael Wandmacher                Cinematography: Philip Robertson
Starring: Stephen Rea, Ed Quinn, Guy Wilson and Ana Ularu

Okay, this is a direct to video film that deserves all of the negative criticism it has received. Still, there’s something that raises this above the ordinary Z-list horror film. In the first place, it was associated with Universal. Granted, a production company called Universal 1440, whatever that is, but with enough ties to the parent company that they were able to draw on the legacy of the Wolf Man films--not that it did them much good. But as I say, still . . . I measure bad movies by the speed at which I shut them off and go on to something else. Now, maybe I’m a sucker for werewolf films, which I am, but Werewolf: The Beast Among Us wasn’t bad enough to turn off and to me that means it’s not worth not watching.

The story begins with a woman on the run, traps obviously set for the werewolf being tripped by her, but she makes it to an isolated cabin in the woods. While the man in the house bars the door his wife gives an amulet to their son. When the woman on the run reaches the door she pounds and begs for entry, but instead the man begins shooting at her. Suddenly the werewolf arrives and begins tearing shingles off the roof, finally bursting in through the wall. The wolf kills the man, then kills the woman, but before the boy can be killed he drops the chandelier on the werewolf, simultaneously setting the cabin on fire. When the fire begins to kill the wolf and it reverts back to human form, we see at last that it was the woman on the run. Later the boy grows up to be a werewolf hunter and with a group of other like minded individuals, hires themselves out to rid the world of the scourge.

At this point the film assumes something like a cross between Van Helsing and The Wolfman, but before long it becomes clear the most influential film on the script is actually Jaws. Ed Quinn is the grown up boy, playing the Quint character. He comes into a village that has just experience a number of werewolf attacks and tells the mayor that he needs to double the bounty or they won’t kill the werewolf. The Hooper character is played by Guy Wilson, a young medical apprentice to the town doctor, Stephen Rea, who wants to help with the werewolf hunt. Again, the acting isn’t very good, and the script makes the audience groan at times, but not quite enough to turn it off. Probably the best thing about the structure of the story is that there are so many suspects. Wilson has a love interest whose father keeps a shotgun handy to fire at any man who comes near his daughter. Could he be the werewolf?

The film has everything, save villagers with torches and pitchforks--they’re actually too frightened to go out during the full moon. But they hold classic town meetings and blame the killings on the Gypsies in the woods, one of whom intones Curt Siodmak’s classic, “Even a man who is pure in heart” poem from The Wolf Man. Stephen Rea is the biggest name in the cast, but he doesn’t bring much to the proceedings that another, lesser star could have done. Still, it’s nice to see him. The production design is also a notch above a lot of schlock horror these days. The only real recommendation I can make about Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is that it’s just good enough not to be bad. Certainly not a rousing endorsement but I kind of liked it anyway.

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