There are a number of horror sub-genres that have been done to death (no pun intended). The ones that come to mind right away are, of course, zombie flicks, any found footage type of supernatural film, vampires, and werewolves. With that said, however, it is still possible, although rare, for a film that revolves around any of that stuff to come out and be somewhat original. Enter Paul Hyett and his latest flick. Howl is not only original, but it is exactly the film that the Wolfman sub-genre needed!
After receiving the bad news that he’s been declined the position of supervisor, Joe (Ed Speleers, A Lonely Place to Die) gets hit with even more bad news — he’s working the red eye and will be stuck on the train all night. Little does Joe know, however, that this is only the beginning of his terrible night; Soon after the night-long ride begins, the train comes to a screeching halt, caused by a crash and a busted fuel line. The overnight passengers quickly become sitting ducks for monstrous creatures who are desperately trying to rip them all to pieces.
I love werewolf movies. I always have and always will. The problem is that there are more bad ones out there than good. Because of that, I always go into new were- flicks with quite a bit of hesitation. I fear bad CGI effects, bad lighting, terrible acting, etc. Now, I guess the same can be said for any horror film, quite frankly, but the bad CG stuff seems to be way more prevalent in lower budget werewolf flicks, for sure. Luckily for us horror-heads, none of that is present in Hyett’s Howl. The acting is on-point, the creatures look amazing, and the overall quality of the film is up to par with some of the best the genre has to offer.
One of my favorite things to experience in a horror film is cast completely filled with people I have never seen before. Sure, it’s great to see your favorite performers pop up here and there, but how many films can we see starring Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley? No, I much rather prefer a group of talented actors who I have no previous experience with. Especially when they are this good! Everyone did a wonderful job throughout Howl‘s 89 minutes, and I was particularly impressed with Ed Speleers as Joe, our main protagonist. There really wasn’t any weak link in the cast and everyone held their own. On top of that, there actually was a cameo from someone who every horror fan will recognize at this point. He has some experience in the werewolf genre, has worked with director, Paul Hyett, before, and even has enjoyed some national fame recently as Alfred Pennyworth on Fox’s ‘Gotham.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the one and only, Sean Pertwee! He doesn’t have a major role, but I loved seeing him pop up in this one and I know you will, too.
Howl‘s best attribute, aside from the acting, cinematography, etc. is the creature design. I can almost guarantee that everyone watches a werewolf flick in hopes of seeing a bad-ass werewolf. Well, my friends, Paul Hyett and his team certainly do not disappoint in that department. And why should they? Hyett has special effects and prosthetic experience on over 60 film projects and has worked with filmmakers from all over the world. In my eyes, he is the perfect guy for the job of creating gnarly movie monsters and also the perfect man to direct those monsters once they are on the right side of the camera.
These creatures are not your daddy’s wolves, people. Consisting of much more human features, Hyett’s creatures are impressive from head to toe. Their noses are not like the protruding snouts we’ve seen in other were- films, and what stands out the most is their eerie glowing eyes. Along with their extremely long finger nails and massively muscled bodies, these wolves are intimidating as all hell. I love the way they look and the fact that we get to see them up close and personal is fantastic. I could not be happier with their design and I can’t wait to see more from Paul Hyett in the future.
One interesting thing that I want to touch on is the way writers, Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, presented the creatures in this film. Howl is a straight-up werewolf movie. There is no denying that. The way they treat a werewolf bite as an infection, however, is what caught my attention. It’s not even something that was gone into in very much detail, but I feel like it’s never really been discussed in film before. We have all seen the slow turning of a loved one into the undead/a zombie, but a werewolf bite has never been treated this way. It was an intriguing take on the creation of a werewolf and I love its inclusion in the story.
If you love werewolf flicks as much as I do, you need to stop what you’re doing and check out Howl. We’ve been offered some great Wolfman flicks in the last couple of years (see Late Phases), but this one takes the cake, hands down. Howl is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Alchemy.
I give this awesome flick 4.5 train cars out of 5.