werewolves within | josh ruben | mishna wolff | sam richardson | milana vayntrub | george basil | werewolf | monster | creature | comedy | united states | sarah burns | michael chernus | catherine curtin | wayne duvall | harvey guillen | rebecca henderson
Film: Werewolves Within
Director: Josh Ruben
Writer: Mishna Wolff
Starring: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub and George Basil
This was a movie that I popped up on my radar by going to the Gateway Film Center. Jaime was intrigued to check this one out as it looked funny. Horror/comedies can be hit or miss for me, but this did catch my interest to see. I knew that it would be a murder mystery with a potential monster in from the title. It also has Milana Vayntrub, Lilly from the AT&T commercials, and I’m a fan of her. The synopsis is basic that it is a feature adaptation of the video game where werewolves attack a small town.
We start this off with a man outside by a tree. He is texting someone and it appears he is thinking of cheating on his wife as he takes off his wedding ring. We will learn later that his name is Dave Sherman (Patrick M. Walsh). Something attacks him though and pulls him into the nearby woods. We are seeing that this happened right outside of his house.
It then shifts over to Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson). He is a park ranger that is reporting to his next assignment. It is a small town and out in the middle of nowhere, being in the New England area. Finn calls Charlotte (Anni Krueger), but she doesn’t answer. He leaves her an awkward voicemail. What we pick up is that he isn’t assertive and that she might not be into him anymore.
Arriving in town, Finn heads to the local inn where he will be staying. It is run by Jeanine Sherman (Catherine Curtin) and she’s in a debate with Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall). He’s trying to convince her to sell as he works for an oil company and they want the land. She disagrees and is happy to see Finn arrive to break up the conversation. He is taken up to his room.
Also staying at this inn is Cecily Moore (Vayntrub). She is the local mail carrier and she informs him that he has an item. It is sent from a Dr. Ellis (Rebecca Henderson) that is also staying at the inn. Finn asks if Cecily will take him to interview the man the accusations in the letter are aimed at and she agrees. This gives us a chance to get to know them as they get to know each other, along with the other residents of the town.
To run through them, there is a rough couple that runs the local auto repair garage of Marcus (George Basil) and his girlfriend of Gwen (Sarah Burns). They are a bit raunchy. There is a conservative couple of Pete (Michael Chernus) and Trisha Anderton (Michaela Watkins) along with their dog of Cha-Chi (Ritz). All four of these people want to sell to Parker. Pete does have an issue with keeping his hands to himself and makes Cecily uncomfortable. Also in town are Joaquim (Harvey Guillén) and his husband of Devon Wolfson (Cheyenne Jackson). They struck it big in the tech field and are rich. They’re against selling.
Cecily leads Finn to the path to the final resident we meet, Emerson (Glenn Fleshler). He’s a hunter and trapper who doesn’t like outsiders. He threatens Finn which scares him off. Returning to Cecily, the two go back into town to get some food. They have natural chemistry that gets ruined with a phone call. This causes her to go cold toward him.
Everything here in town changes that night. There is a bad snowstorm we keep hearing about that hit. The power goes out and the road to town is blocked. All the back-up generators are sabotaged by something with large claws. Cha-Chi is killed by an animal. Trisha is quite upset and the entire town gathers at the inn. It is there that an even darker discovery is made.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap for the movie. Where I want to start is that I didn’t realize this was based off of a video game. When I saw Ubisoft in the opening credits, I knew they did the Assassin’s Creed games. With a bit of research, it does appear that this is a horror comedy game that was made for VR. It is interesting and now I’m curious how much of the game is incorporated into this movie.
Where I want to shift to first would be the setting. I really like that we are getting this small quaint town that has some deep seeded issues. Greed is showing and how it can tear people apart thanks to Parker. We have two sides of this argument here. Jeanine doesn’t want to sell as she knows nothing different from her life here. Dr. Ellis is against the pipeline due to nature purposes. There is also Joaquim and Devon who are already rich. They moved to the town for its beauty and want to preserve why they moved there. This is pitting them against Marcus, Gwen, Pete and Trisha who really could use the money for different reasons. I can see both sides of the argument and would be a tough choice. I’m against oil companies destroying nature, but if given the check it is hard to decline.
This also helps with isolation. They are stranded here due to the storm and that already builds tension there. Taking it farther, everyone aside from one character ends up in one large house. This is where the movie then shifts to be a murder mystery. Evidence points to something that Dr. Ellis cannot explain and werewolf becomes the thought. What I like is that not everyone just believes it. We get a taste of The Beast Must Die as well as adding a bit of Agatha Christie here as people are picked off. This all adds tension as I was saying.
What I think works in this movie’s favor is that we don’t know if there is a werewolf or not until the reveal. We know the initial attack on Dave. What I find interesting is that the lore of the werewolf started in I believe Germany due to them not believing that someone could brutally attack someone, so it had to be done by a person who shifted into a beast. Despite evidence pointing to it, there could be a logical explanation and that one of them isn’t necessarily a monster in the literal sense. I’ll also be honest, I didn’t figure out who was behind all of this until the reveal. I also did get sucked into the story where I just went along for the ride. Something else I want to incorporate back in is the fact that the issues I stated above come back into play as tensions boil over for the character and the stress mounts.
Then the last part of the story I want to go into would be the comedy. That is really the first genre here. That isn’t to say there aren’t horror elements or that they aren’t well done. Cecily steals the show for me. Her along with some of the other characters I think handle the ‘woke’ jokes extremely well. It is to the point where I think they’re poking fun at them while also being respectful. There are also poking fun at the other side of the spectrum as well. I will say that the comedy in this movie worked for me and Jaime afterwards said it felt a lot like Knives Out, if that movie went more into horror. I agree there.
To move away from the story now, acting is the next part I want to go over. Richardson does well as Finn. I really like that in the beginning he’s indecisive and that was the cause of his last relationship falling apart. He does take command here and we see some real character growth to where he ends up. My favorite part of the movie though would be Vayntrub. Her delivery of jokes is on point. She is also quite attractive which doesn’t hurt. It is interesting that most of the movie she is wearing the bulky mail carrier outfit and there is only really one sequence where she isn’t which is good. Aside from that, I think the rest of the cast are distinct in their characters and each adds their own level of comedy that worked together. This movie had me legit laughing if I’m going to be honest. I’m glad I got to see it with a crowd.
Then I should go to the effects. This movie is a bit light in this category, but it also isn’t that type of movie. There is some blood and some scenes where characters are killed. They all looked good as well. I’m assuming this is a mix of practical and CGI. What we get at the climax was also solid. I did want to give credit here to the cinematography. The movie is well shot to hide things with camera angles. The framing was also well done.
The last thing I want to go into would be the soundtrack. What I really enjoyed was the 90’s music that is played in the bar while Finn and Cecily are hanging out. They come back to this later which I liked. Aside from that, I’d say the rest of the soundtrack fit for what was needed and the sound design worked as well.
So then in conclusion here, this is fun comedy/horror movie. I do mean in that order as well. I think that the concept is interesting and how the story plays out worked for me. The acting really helps to drive this movie and the effects that go with it work as well. I also think that the setting adds to the tension, especially when stress mounts and the characters start to panic. I just also just say that the soundtrack and design of the movie worked in its favor. This is a good movie to me. This is one that I would recommend to horror and non-horror fans.
My Rating: 8 out of 10