Werewolves Within Movie Review

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Werewolves Within 2021
Director: Josh Ruben
Ubisoft Film and Television

Newly appointed Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) heads to Beaverfield, a small scenic town whose residents are currently divided by a pipeline proposal presented by a slick oilman Sam Parker. Finn meets the sweet and helpful postal worker Cecily, who helps him navigate his first day and introduces him to the town’s most eclectic residents, including estranged couple Trisha and Pete, wealthy transplants Devon and Joaquim, blue-collar besties Gwen and Marcus, activist environmentalist Dr. Jane Ellis, isolated hunter Emerson, and local lodge owner Jeanine, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared recently.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

When a blizzard knocks out all power, the residents take shelter in the lodge. The next day Finn finds a generator ripped wide open and a mutilated body under the lodge porch, which could be Jeanine’s husband. Tensions over the future pipeline continue, as Finn investigates the mystery beast terrorizing the town. Does Forest Ranger truly have a sinister werewolf on his hands or is there a more down-to-earth explanation for these heinous crimes?

Veep alumni Sam Richardson leads an all-star cast in this campy horror-comedy based on the hit video game of the same name. While the video game was set in a medieval village, this movie takes place in modern times. The plot may not seem entirely original but entertains nonetheless. It’s funny, quirky, spooky fun, not chainsaw terrifying blood splatter, and it works perfectly with the witty banter between the characters. Filmed just before the pandemic hit, Director Josh Ruben shot on location in Hudson Valley, near Woodstock in New York, and used mostly practical effects and make-up for the monster and scares. Ruben, known for his successful meta horror-comedy Scare Me for Shudder, makes the most of a low-budget creature feature and impresses audiences with his creativity and wit.

Much in the way of Bruce Campbell’s legendary hero Ash from the Evil Dead series, Finn is not your typical hero. He’s just an ordinary everyday man who finds himself suddenly dealing with an extremely dangerous supernatural problem, maybe. The always solid funnyman Sam Richardson has built an impressive resume playing affable, offbeat characters and he aces the assignment yet again.

Sam Richardson, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The town residents are basically a who’s who in television comedy. There are a lot of familiar faces here, including Groundlings and American Dad star Michaela Watkins, What We Do in the Shadow’s Harvey Guillen, American Horror Story heartthrob Cheyenne Jackson, and Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Thing’s comedienne Catherine Curtin, just to name a few. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is a potential victim. And, they all equal parts funny and annoying in their own way, viewers aren’t sure if we should root for their survival or their slaughter.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

The real treat here is Milana Vayntrub though. Best known as the AT&T spokesperson Lily, Milana once again uses her charm and girl-next-door likeability to keep viewers guessing whether she’s a misunderstood postal worker or a wolf under sheep’s clothing. I’ve never seen her in anything but a phone commercial so it was delightful to see her get a chance to shine a little and show off her comedic chops.

Milana Vayntrub, Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

All in all, Werewolves Within is better than most horror movies based on video games. It’s a smartly written whodunnit that keeps the twists and turns going all the way to the end. This is a great date night or just staying home on a Saturday night movie.

Werewolves Within ©Ubisoft Film and Television

Haiku of the Week

The theme this month is a werewolf summer.

My poem is inspired by Joe Slucher’s artwork entitled Werewolf Camp.

Artwork by Joe Slucher

To view more artwork and purchase merchandise by the amazing fantasy and sci-fi illustrator Joe Slucher, please go here: https://www.joeslucher.com/

Monthly Haiku Corner – June

Three things remind me of June, cherries, delicious bit size fruit, great for milkshakes and pie; camping, which is not my cup of tea, but certainly makes for great stories; and werewolves. The werewolf, a terrifying beast that hides deep in the forests, waiting for its next victim. Is this creature part of nature’s evolution or an abomination from Hell? Our theme this month is a werewolf summer.

red cherries so sweet
in the graveyard at midnight
a werewolf summer

Hellmouth Movie Review

Strange Films

Hellmouth 2014

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Director Joe Geddes teams up with Pontypool writer and lead actor Stephen McHattie for visually stunning spooky adventure about a terminally ill grave digger who travels to hell to rescue the beautiful woman he falls in love with.

This highly-stylized CGI endeavor pays homage to 1950’s horror and sci-fi cinema, but lacks the campy fun of any such movies. Truth is this is more of an offbeat fantasy drama than horror and it takes itself quite seriously, which would have been fine if the story had made any sense. Despite the eye-popping visuals, the movie slogs along without actually going anywhere, which is a real shame for Stephen McHattie, who does a fine job playing Charlie Baker, a graveyard caretaker suffering from episodic pran disease (brain clunk). In addition to his head pounding pain, Charlie endures daily harassment from local children and starts to notice some bizarre vandalism happening in the cemetery. Problem is Charlie can’t be sure if this isn’t all an illusion. Charlie is tired of looking after the dead and wants to move to Florida, but after a visit from his employer, Charlie learns he’ll have to delay retirement for reasons not entirely clear and inherits a box with a mysterious map, which he can’t stand more than 10 feet away from. While on an afternoon drive, he meets an alluring woman named Fay, who is running away from an unseen force. The two quickly fall in love and Hell doesn’t seem to like it very much. Fay disappears just as quickly as she showed up. 

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

The movie then introduces a subplot involving a squirrelly policeman on the hunt for two dangerous escaped criminals from the local insane asylum. The copper tells Charlie several small and strange tales of the cemetery’s more notorious residents. These small stories are perhaps the most interesting part of the whole movie. Unfortunately, the escaped criminals storyline goes nowhere fast, and soon after, Charlier Baker uses the mystery map to find his way into Hell, where he battle the forces of evil to win back his beloved Fay.

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Unfortunately, the Sin City-style visuals and amazing set design are not enough to carry this one. I didn’t really have any problem with any of the other actors, particularly Julian Richings, who I felt was criminally underused here, but the characters needed more fleshing out and more clarity to their relevance to the main story. The end is one big beautiful muddled mess.

Hellmouth, Strange Films 2014

Horror fans won’t find any scares here, but for those who want weirdness and to witness some really cool visuals, this one’s for you.

Haiku of the Week

During this last week in April, Halloween lovers reanimate after a long hibernation. Walpurgisnacht marks the halfway point to Halloween and revelers are planning for a ghoulish good time.

Our theme this month has been Zombie Spring.

trampled gardens
flowers covered in blood
spring of the undead

Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews

After missing my own self-imposed deadlines in January and February, where I was to present a movie review for the month, I am determined not to miss March! Thus, I decided to triple down and do three movie reviews in celebration of our legendary creatures theme.

The truth is, earlier this March, I watched Dawn of the Beast, but it was only when I started writing the review did I realize the movie was actually the third cryptid monster film, following Monstrous and The Retreat, all directed by Bruce Wemple. Naturally, I had to watch the other two films.

Armed with a great love for campy horror films and his trusty cast of relative unknowns, New York director Bruce Wemple creates fresh horror that makes the socially conscious Gen Z crowd proud. All boxes checked. Wemple knows all the horror tropes, and these films felt like proper indie horror movies. There was decent acting, strong female characters, and lots of action. The camerawork makes good use of those shadows, close-up shots, and practical effects to perpetuate the scares and despite the low budget, the production quality was pretty good. I was even forgiving of the few man-in-a-monster-suit shots, which were super cheesy, but hey look, considering the third film was entirely developed during the pandemic, all of us should be impressed by that. I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to Adirondack mountains before watching these films, and whatever location Wemple chose to shoot on location is some damn beautiful country. If I wasn’t so scared of the real Wendigo, I’d run out and buy a Winnebago.

The Retreat, 2020 (377 Films)

There’s a lot of good psychological horror here too, especially in the second film, The Retreat. The biggest flaw of this cryptid trilogy was the films suffered from having too much story. I guess having too much story is better than having no story, right? It’s just these long drawn out or overly heavy exposition scenes take away our monster time, and when you make a feature film starring these two legendary creatures, you have got to have more monster!!

I should also mention upfront, each of these movies is stand-alone. You’ll understand each of them on their own just fine, but movie marathons are so much more fun.

Continue reading “Cryptid Monster Marathon – Monstrous, The Retreat, and Dawn of the Beast Movie Reviews”

Haiku of the Week

Our theme this month is love and death.

a hint of red rose
love, a deadly poison
til death do us part