With Halloween right around the corner, I am trying my damnedest to get back into the role of ‘horror film critic.’ While last week I reviewed a recent Hollywood production (see The Mummy), I decided to visit the other side of the spectrum with a low-budget indie flick this week. Was Bev Land’s Lycan worth both my time and yours? Read on to find out…
A group of students are given an assignment to work together and rediscover a moment in history. After the wise-cracking Kenny (Parker Croft, TV’s “Once Upon a Time”) suggests the group head into the woods to uncover the mystery of ‘the Talbot County werewolf,’ the group set out for a terrifying course that they are certainly not prepared for.
Anyone who has read any of my past reviews of the lower budget films in this genre know that I either always hate them or at the very least am extremely weary when going into a new one. While I agree it isn’t the best practice, I usually know within a film’s first five minutes whether it is worth my time or not. Luckily with Lycan, it is made pretty clear very early on.
The first thing anyone can notice about Bev Land’s newest project is the production quality. Even on a shoestring budget, Land and his team were able to make a beautiful looking film, while still maintaining that level of suspense and terror that any good horror film should strive for. Most indie films are riddled with very obvious showings of their lack of funds — poor lighting, awful sound design and effects, ugly special make-up effects, etc. That is not the case with Lycan, however. It is clear that even with a smaller budget than most directors out there are allotted, Land is capable of making a rather great film with great cinematography, an awesome, non-traditional horror score/soundtrack, and a very talented cast.
The main focus of Lycan is the group of students who have set out on this little excursion for their class project. The make-up of the group is comprised of the typical horror characters; There is the sarcastic pothead, the pretty, entitled popular girl, the jock, and so on. While this may seem like another boring repeat of every other film you’ve ever watched in this lovely gore-filled genre, it is not. What sets this one apart, at least to me, is the chemistry between the characters on-screen. The small and intimate cast consisting of co-writer and director Bev Land’s wife, known actress Dania Ramirez (X-Men: The Last Stand, Quarantine), as well as five other very talented performers is a real treat to watch. The characters don’t get along, but watching them bicker back and forth is very fun and quite comical at times. My favorite scene is when the group decides they are pretty much screwed and are going through their remaining provisions. The scene, which is no longer than five minutes, is a joy to watch and I found myself chuckling out loud multiple times.
Frank, we’re talking about a horror movie, here, not a comedy… get back to the good stuff. Alright, alright. Lycan does a tremendous job of not giving away too much of the story all at once. There is this great level of suspense and mystery that is created by slowly letting the audience figure out what is going on, on their own, throughout the film’s 88 minutes runtime. I can’t give away too much, but I will say that this film is able to pull off a nice mix of Hitchcockian thriller, werewolf lore, and the good old slasher flick tropes that we all love incredibly.
If you’re a supporter of independent horror films, you should certainly set some time aside to watch Bev Land’s Lycan. While some scenes left me scratching my head a bit, it is still a solid entry into the genre and is light years ahead of most other indie flicks out there today. Be sure to pick up a copy on DVD, available now.
I give Lycan a final repulsive rating of 3.5 maxi pads out of 5.