Werewolves Within (2021) — Claws out for this video game adaptation

“Well, we’re having a good old fashioned sleepover.” “With guns.”

Justin’s rating: HEAVENS TO BETSY

Justin’s review: Sometimes one is in the market for a horror movie that’s not really scary at all but rather funny, weird, and far off the beaten path. That right there is Werewolves Within. I mean, what did you expect when you’re adapting a party video game from 2016 where medieval peasants try to figure out which player among them is a bloodthirsty lycanthrope?

Not medieval in the least, Werewolves Within takes us to the snowed-in town of Beaverfield, where the locals are as krazy as the “K” replacement represents. Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson), who goes full old-fashioned dork, is thrown head-first into this Twin Peaks character convention right on the eve of a possible werewolf attack.

I said “possible.” Nobody’s quite sure why some people are disappearing, losing limbs, and also losing their minds. To make things more complicated, there’s a controversial pipeline deal for the town that’s about to be voted in — or out. So it’s possible that this is a werewolf, but it’s also possible it’s just plain murder and manipulation over a high-stakes deal. And poor Finn is the one’s who’s got to sort this out, because no other law enforcement is getting up there in the snow.

While Finn appeals to civility and niceness, it seems like the odds are stacked against his attitude with a town that’s perpetually two seconds away from devolving into an apocalyptic battle royale.

Part Clue-style whodunnit, part slasher elimination, part satire, and part “these people be wacky-shacky,” Werewolves Within vibrantly enjoys dancing to its own beat. It’s even got a bit of Sam Raimi vibes, what with the rapid cuts and zooms with associated sound effects with handling various props, which puts me in mind of Evil Dead 2.

The only thing I didn’t like was that the movie is peppered with little digs at both conservative and liberal attitudes, speech patterns, and viewpoints. It’s never very clear if it’s to satirize all ridiculous political positions, just one side, or merely have fun with stereotypes. The end result is that on occasion this movie gets a slightly uncomfortable the way a room will when someone you know pipes up with a political opinion while everyone else would just rather not get into it. Fortunately, Werewolves Within doesn’t dwell on these things, and the next joke is often waiting on the conveyor belt to be delivered.

I heard a whole lot of praise for this indie flick last year, even though it wasn’t a raging box office hit. And you know what? That praise is deserved. It’s a delightfully fun genre mix-and-match that happens to star a detective who’s the world’s most polite pushover. It’s one of those movies that I can easily push on friends and say, “You watch this, you’re gonna have a good time.”

Didja notice?

  • This may be the first and only horror movie in existence to start with a Mister Rogers quote
  • What kind of motivation tape is this?
  • “Stephen King’s own Trish”
  • Parker’s phallic fire totem
  • “He’s not my kind of guy at all! Which is the neighborly kind!”
  • “Want to do something violent?”
  • Most bars should have axe tossing
  • That was the worst kiss ever… I’m DYING
  • “Hi. It’s a little too early to tell mainly because I don’t know what’s on.”
  • The absolutely great abrupt scene cuts
  • “Might we put the horror leash away?”
  • I read that the filmmakers dressed everyone up in this film so that they’d make for great convention cosplay outfits
  • So many hugs denied in this film
  • “Can someone please look for my hand?” “I got you bro!”
  • The beams of light coming through the bullet holes
  • The screenwriter’s last name is Wolff. Just saying that we shouldn’t rule out all obvious suspects.
  • “That was Royal Crown Derby…”
  • The hand of knives — never seen that before!
  • “…he really likes his snowshoes…”
  • Loved the far-away explosion
  • Finn’s happy he made the dart board in the end

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