Werewolf: The Beast Among Us [Blu-ray]

Actors: Guy Wilson, Stephen Rea, Ed Quinn, Adam Croasdell
Format: AC-3, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Universal Studios
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2012




It’s really best for all concerned that you lower your sights when dealing with Werewolf: The Beast Among Us. It suffers from the dubious distinction of being a straight-to-video release for Halloween, on the 100th anniversary of the studio that practically invented the horror genre.

Is it supposed to stand alongside the likes of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man? Of course not. It can barely pass muster even in an off-year for horror movies . . . and with 2012 already witnessing the likes of The Cabin in the Woods, The Woman in Black and Sinister, this is anything but an off year. Werewolf stands as a jumped-up Syfy original movie at best, complete with no-budget special effects and a slumming name actor in Stephen Rea. Any horror movie fan can and should do better.

And yet, if you go in knowing that, it’s not an entirely miserable experience. The werewolf effects kind of work, the gore shows a little flair, and the overall storyline – while hardly original – will keep you from jabbing your eyeballs out in boredom. That may be damning with faint praise, but with this kind of project, you take whatever you can.

Part of the problem is that the director’s reach clearly exceeds his budgetary means. He envisions a steampunk-era werewolf hunt, in which his late 19th century band of heroes takes on a murderous lycanthrope with all manner of clockwork gadgets. You can sense that in the hunter’s colorful weaponry, notably Nia Peebles’ fetching flamethrower-and-goggles combo that speaks to grander ambitions than we see here.

The rest of the story is fairly typical and rather inelegantly presented.

A small town in 19th Century Europe falls under repeated attacks from a suspected werewolf. The town doctor (Rea) and his young assistant (Guy Wilson) must also contain an epidemic in the process, since anyone bitten by a werewolf who lives will become a werewolf themselves. (Long story short, they exercise triage with extreme prejudice.) Soon enough, a band of monster hunters arrives to make the town’s problems go away. The only trouble is, this monster is smarter than most . . . and one of the hunters themselves may have joined its ranks.

There are worse premises for cheap drive-in thrills, and director Louis Morneau scores some mild successes with the various throwdowns between wolf and man. The hunters like using live bait – some more willing than others – and must deal with some competition in the monster-killing department. The action scenes show signs of life and despite his limited budget, Morneau makes the werewolf itself quite convincing.

The trouble comes, as it often does, with the storytelling elements. We don’t learn much about our heroes and there’s too many of them to properly establish. A brief introduction covers the origins of their leader (Steven Bauer), whose family was killed by a werewolf, but they come back to it only awkwardly at best. Most of the movie focuses on Wilson and his desire to join the hunters on their quest. It holds some vague interest, but intermingles awkwardly with the more overt horror elements, leaving an uneven texture in its wake.

That said, credit the film for refusing to phone it in. It endeavors to earn its scares and works hard to invest the drama with something worth paying attention to. Even by modest standards, it fails, but it earns honor in the effort and at least avoids the deepest pitfalls of such fare. You won’t remember it very long, but you won’t actively curse its name when you’re done. As I said, films like Werewolf: The Beast Among Us force you to accept whatever pleasures can be found.

THE DISC: The disc delivers a nice clean picture – which doesn’t always benefit the visual effects – along with a decent array of extras: deleted scenes, a pair of behind-the-scenes documentaries, a brief retrospective on Universal’s golden age of monsters, and audio commentary from the director and producer.

WORTH IT? Not by a long shot. The disc is nice for enthusiastic fans – and I suppose some exist – but the film itself won’t normally merit more than one viewing.

RECOMMENDATION: Rent it if you absolutely have to see it. Better yet, wait for the inevitable Syfy screening . . .the ideal place for this particular brand of cheese. 


- Rob Vaux



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