Friday, March 15, 2013

WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US (2012)

You are the horror consumer, so you should answer this question: does everything have to aim high to be cherished or is "good enough" a good enough reason for something to exist?  Because I can easily see WEREWOLF capturing the hearts of genre fans who just wanna have a fun time watching beasts mutilate their ways across the secondly-billed.  I can also see people who only appreciate horror when it's ROSEMARY'S BABY or CABIN IN THE WOODS or has something rly important to say about "human nature" ditching the scene and finding refuge at a nearby organic grocery.  Their loss because...


If you like horror, you have undoubtedly sifted through garbage in search of gems.  You're not necessarily going to have dashed hopes if a movie only has high-quality cinematography, an interesting plot, and frothing waves of gore, but not "something to say".  I don't think WEREWOLF has much to say in the didactic Charles Dickens kind of way, but neither does THE GODFATHER.  Actually, both movies kind of have the same thing to say: violence and evil are interesting.  Set in medieval village Europe, where werewolves are generally accepted as existing by the populace and hunters track them for reward money from afflicted towns.  But there's a different kind of wolf out there that seems to be selectively killing after thinking about it.  An itinerant band of monster-slayers arrive and begrudgingly allow the local mortician's assistant to assist them in their hunt.  Who's the werewolf, brah? 


This thing looks cool and it does cool with its characters.  Even tiny minor figures get some kind of memorable attributes.  Like the guy above who claims that his horse was attacked by a werewolf.  The monster ripped off its hind quarters (apparently horses don't turn into werewolves after attacks, fyi), so he added wheels to it, like you've seen in many crippled-puppy GIFs.  Great story and he's really just a nothing character for the most part!  WEREWOLF, despite not being a teachy/preachy film, is pretty serious about its people and its plot.  It even mines some vintage werewolf lore by incorporating gypsies, who are (of course) hated by all the non-gypsies.

Go talk about wolfsbane somewhere else
Plus this is a period piece and not in the CARRIE way, but more in the BLACK DEATH way, and we can all use more of that.  The sets and buildings here look great, especially when they are full of medieval hookers.


And the gore looks incredibly good!  When you see a cart full of body parts in this movie, you smile inside and say, "Now that's what a werewolf attack looks like!"  I also dig the way this is shot, very desaturated with lots of muted colors which creates a nice contrast when there, say, a lot of blood thrown around.


So the movie does everything that it sets out to do well.  The acting is solid, the story clips along, medieval hookers, horse wheelchairs.  How about flaws?  The first thing that leaps out at me, like a Jack in the Box made of pixels from 1994, is the werewolf itself.  It looks fine when it's in shadows or hidden behind fire (as does Renee Zellwegger), but clear shots are way too revealing and damaging.  CGI wolves just almost never work and using CGI in a medieval setting is seriously risky because it can not only look dumb, but ruin the atmosphere.  I understand why you wouldn't wanna blow your budget on a suit and a makeup guy/gal, but if this were a weaker movie otherwise, the wolf could've sunk it. 


I liked this much more than I'd expected.  It's running at 5 stars on IMDB, which undersells it a bit, I think.  If WEREWOLF doesn't cross the line into 6, it at least comes close.  It's not going to end up on anyone's Top 25 Horror Films list, but you can't really expect to grow as a person if you're just watching CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI over and over your entire life.  

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