It’s been quite some time since my last written review, so I promise to do my best to even remember how to do this. I generally make it a point to watch as many Christmas-themed horror films as possible during the month of December every year. Thus, making it pretty odd that my return to written form would not fit that criteria even in the slightest. It does offer me some solace, however, that one of my favorite holiday-related horrors from last year was another of the wolfy persuasion (The Wolf of Snow Hollow). Here’s to hoping that that is good enough for you all, as well. Without further ado, lets discuss Josh Ruben’s Werewolves Within.
Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) is the new ranger in the small town of Beaverfield. Soon after meeting all of his new neighbors, each with their own quirky personalities, a snowstorm hits the small hamlet. Now that the already secluded town is even more distant from the rest of humanity, Finn and mail-person Cecily (Milana Vayntrub), must keep the peace as a suspected werewolf terrorizes the community.
It doesn’t take much for me to get excited about horror movies these days. I mean, I generally will try and see almost all new genre flicks upon release, but if one has to do with creatures, or werewolves more specifically, you can bet that said flick with rise to the top of the must-see list pretty quickly. Hell, there are even times when all I’m watching is werewolf movies.
Based on the 2016 video game of the same name, Werewolves Within is a horror comedy that takes place in a small, secluded town and features an intimate cast of only about a dozen or so characters. I prefer these types of films for a few reasons.
Firstly, I don’t have to worry about getting to know too many players. A small cast makes it much easier to figure out whether you love or hate someone within the film’s allotted runtime. I either want to see you die or not. It’s as simple as that.
Secondly, the tight quarters always does a great job of heightening the level of tension and suspense. A film called Werewolves Within clearly has to do with a killer wolf… right? That is scary enough, in theory, but when your characters, the ones you both love and hate, are all trapped in one location, it just makes things that much more terrifying.
Werewolves Within, the sophomore film by writer/actor/director Josh Ruben (Scare Me) started off strong. Its brand of comedy managed to garner a few out-loud chuckles from me very early on, and since I am a sucker for any type of budding romance, I quickly became a fan of the new relationship between Cecily and Finn. Luckily, both the laughs and the love connection continued throughout the film, but at some point the threat, and therefore promise, of a werewolf took a backseat to the whodunnit mystery.
I know this was by design; It is made clear that viewers are supposed to be kept in suspense — is there a werewolf running around Beaverfield or not — but the constant teasing with a delayed payoff does hurt my final rating for the film in the end.
I enjoyed the performances of the entire cast and thought the mixed bag of characters was a fun treat. From Ranger Finn who just couldn’t seem to “man up,” constantly using phrases like “heavens to Betsy” and “co-inc-i-dinc” and Cecily, the gossip-sharing mail-carrier to the Wolfson’s, Devon (Cheyenne Jackson, “American Horror Story”) and Joaquim (Harvey Guillen, “What We Do in the Shadows”), the local same-sex yogi couple, everyone brought something entertaining to the table. All performances were on par with one another, no one becoming the weak link along the way, and it was nice seeing Milana Vayntrub in something other than another AT&T commercial!
Additionally, when the horror side of this horror comedy does rear its bloody head, it does so in impressive fashion; There isn’t much bloodshed, but a bitten off hand here and a throat ‘slicing’ there is all executed with glorious practical effects.
Werewolves Within at Home
Werewolves Within is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray from RLJE Films. The Blu-ray of the film is presented in a 2.39:1 widescreen format with a 5.1 DTS-HD audio track and optional English subtitles.
Sadly, there are no special features included on the home release.
Werewolves Within is a fun monster mystery with good acting and impressive special effects. It is funny when it needs to be, while also being an effective horror film. The pacing does suffer at times and I would have loved to see the payoff a bit sooner, but overall, I have no problem recommending this film to fellow horror lovers.
Give Werewolves Within a watch of your own, as I give it 3.5 purse guns out of 5.