Review: Werewolves Within

Directed by Josh Ruben and written by Mishna Wolff, a snowstorm traps town residents together inside the local inn, where newly arrived forest ranger Finn and postal worker Cecily must try to keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community. Starring: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Harvey Guillén, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins and Glenn Fleshler.

Video game adaptations are notoriously terrible, it’s hard to even think of a good one off the top of your head and when the filmmakers brought up this idea, the reaction was probably ‘what on earth are you talking about?’ (to put it politely). However, it’s a whole different ball game here, this film hits the right note from the second its initial quote appears on screen, which is a hilarious moment that playfully subverts your expectations, in the best way. From there it just keeps getting better, the writing doesn’t let up at all, it’s nerdy and delightfully awkward. The best thing it does is walk that line between comedy and horror, not many can do justice to both but here it’s extremely funny and still contains genuine tension and classic horror elements. To a certain extent it feels like an homage to 70s and 80s horror, especially being jampacked full of oddball characters. There’s something inherently lovable about it that lets you embrace the horror even more, though the comedy is certainly at the forefront.

Another element that helps its blend of genres is the direction, it feels self aware of its hybrid story. Ruben instils the feel of horror through shots like its slowly moving opening and with some very well paced editing (by Brett W. Bachman), but it does primarily still focus on being a comedy. It moves in such a way throughout that adds a really great amount of tension to the story, the silliness never takes away from your genuine investment in its tale. One of the great classic horror choices that it makes is to not over show its monster, it keeps the mystery going and lets you use your imagination for the majority of the film as to what this werewolf actually looks like.

However, undoubtedly the greatest choice that this film has made is with casting, this is an absolutely brilliant ensemble of people. Starting off with the incomparable Sam Richardson who can be utterly adorable and whip-smart simultaneously, he’s purely a joy to watch and his comedic timing is up there with the greats. Milana Vayntrub is wonderful as a pair for Richardson, the two of them have a great chemistry, and she brings a strong sarcasm and confidence to her character. You then have Harvey Guillén, best know as Guillermo on What We Do in the Shadows, who is another actor who’s so enjoyable to watch. As well as Michaela Watkins who’s brilliant at bringing to life so specific and unique personalities, two Orange is the New Black alums Michael Chernus and Catherine Curtin who are both such solid, dependable actors. Plus Sarah Burns, Wayne Duvall, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, it’s just a phenomenal group of actors, who never miss a beat.

Werewolves Within is hilarious, hugely fun and the whole experience of it is beautifully satisfying. It is without a doubt in contention for the best video game adaptation ever made, this is successful on so many levels where others have failed miserably. This is a terrific cast, they couldn’t have put together a better group of people. The story doesn’t let up, it’s consistently funny but also gets you in its grips keeping you waiting for its big reveal. It walks the line between comedy and horror masterfully, the perfect film for when you just want to have a good time.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½

In theaters across the US from June 25 & coming to VOD July 2

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