Last year, one of the more acclaimed indie horror films that was released during the early days of the pandemic was Josh Ruben’s Scare Me. While I did not fall as head over heels for it as many did, I still enjoyed it a good bit and made a mental note to keep an eye on what Ruben was doing going forward. Now it’s a year later and he has already returned with another horror comedy, this time an adaptation of a werewolf-themed video game.
I love werewolves and I especially love werewolf movies. They aren’t always easy to pull off, although there are a great deal more good ones out there than people think. Still, I always approach any new attempt with extreme caution. We’ve been lucky enough to have a healthy serving of good ones over the past decade*. I’m happy to say that Werewolves Within is another keeper.
What we have here is a pretty charming flick that begins with a meet cute between two eccentric people and eventually turns into a dark humor-filled whodunnit amidst a small town full of weirdos, passive aggressive rage, and dark secrets. This is a film that leans very hard on the comedy side of horror comedy, so your mileage may vary when it comes to the humor. I’ve seen a fair amount of polarizing reactions to the film already and I suspect that will continue. After all, one person’s hilarious is another’s annoyance. As far as I am concerned, however, the cast and their chemistry with one another is what holds this one together.
As for the actual werewolf elements? They’re more mutated and a bit goofier than I’d like, but that’s the kind of movie that Ruben & Wolff are aiming for. They succeed for the most part, although the final confrontation could have felt a bit more dangerous. The killings also often leave something to be desired, both in terms of how the actual deaths play out and who is doing the killing. For a movie about a werewolf on the rampage in a powder keg of a small town, there are way too many offscreen deaths occurring. This ultimately makes for an odd situation where you care about a lot of the characters, setting the film up to really gut-punch you when they bite it, only for many of the deaths to play out in a very lackluster way.
Still, at the end of the day this is a solid genre-blending film that can offer up a good time for those on its wave-length. It’s not amazing, but it will entertain you. Sometimes that’s all you need, especially after the past year and a half that we’ve all had to survive.
Werewolves Within is a horror comedy film, based on the video game by the same name. It was directed by Josh Ruben, from a screenplay by Mishna Wolff. The film was produced by Jason Altman, Margaret Boykin, Andrew Lieberman, Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, Sam Richardson, and Benjamin Wiessner. It stars Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, Wayne Duvall, Catherine Curtin, Michaela Watkins, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Cheyenne Jackson, Harvey Guillen, Rebecca Henderson, Glenn Fleshler, Patrick M. Walsh, and Anni Krueger.
* – Including, but not limited to the following: Late Phases, Wolves, Howl, When Animals Dream, The Wolf of Snow Hollow, and Wer. Perhaps the WolfCop duology as well, if you’re fond of outrageousness.