Pickin’ the Carcass:
WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US (2012)
By Michael Arruda
WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US (2012) is a direct-to-video release. No surprise then that we’re not talking “must-see horror” here. Still, the film’s not a total loss. I’m always up for an old-fashioned monster movie, and since this is the story of a murderous werewolf on the prowl, there were things I liked about it.
In WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US, a 19th century village—we never learn where—is terrorized by a werewolf. A group of expert werewolf hunters led by a guy named Charles (Ed Quinn), who looks and sounds as if he just left the Alamo, descend upon the village to hunt down the vicious beast.
The hunters are aided by a young man, Daniel (Guy Wilson), who works as an assistant to the village doctor (Stephen Rea). Daniel is mostly interested in hunting down the werewolf in order to protect his girlfriend, Eva (Rachel DiPillo). These hunters spend a lot of time setting elaborate werewolf traps in the woods, whereas they might have been better served interviewing the locals, since werewolves, after all, are people when the moon isn’t full.
Anyway, this is one of those movies where we don’t know who the werewolf is at first, but then, when they make the revelation, the werewolf turns out to be—well, I won’t give it away, but I will say that it’s not much of a surprise.
There are the obligatory battles between the hunters and the werewolf, and there’s even—in the film’s lowest point for me—a vampire who shows up to join in on the fun. He should have stayed home.
Released by Universal, WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US (2012)tries to capture the feel of the old Universal monster movies. It fails, mostly because its script isn’t strong enough to recapture the mood of those golden oldies. It’s not a total disaster. In terms of more recent movies, it’s better than VAN HELSING (2004), but it’s nowhere near as good as THE WOLFMAN (2010) remake.
The story itself is likeable enough, but the screenplay by Michael Tabb, Catherine Cyran, and director Louis Morneau, has too many problems for it to be successful. For starters, the story presents us with a wild group of eclectic werewolf hunters. These guys should dominate this movie, but they don’t. They’re not fleshed out at all, which is a shame, because they could have had a Marvel AVENGERS thing going. Instead, they’re just a bunch of folks with different weapons, aiming to kill a werewolf.
One of the hunters I did like, Kazia (Ana Ularu), the only woman hunter of the group, isn’t in the movie enough to make that much of a difference.
The dialogue is pretty awful. It shouldn’t be assumed that it’s okay for a monster movie to have forced, cliché-ridden dialogue. Had this movie enjoyed some realistic dialogue, it could have been taken seriously.
Director Louis Morneau does a nice job making this movie look polished and slick, but on the other hand, it’s in desperate need of some memorable scenes. WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US definitely lacks an identity.
And for the majority of the werewolf scenes, Morneau uses a CGI werewolf. Nuff said about that!
There’s actually some decent blood and gore in this one, some of it not that fake-looking. I was almost impressed.
The cast was OK. Stephen Rea is fine as Doc for most of the movie, but sadly, in the film’s conclusion, he’s given some of the worst dialogue in the entire film, when he gets to talk to the werewolf, saying things like, “Kill her!” and “If you don’t, I will!”
Ed Quinn is okay as Charles, the lead werewolf hunter, even though he sounds like he belongs in a western. Guy Wilson as young Daniel, who’s really the central character in this movie, runs hot and cold. In certain scenes, he’s fine, but in others, especially where he has to display emotion, not so much. The same can be said for Rachel DiPillo as his girlfriend, Eva.
Again, I did like Ana Ularu as werewolf hunter Kazia, and I wish she were in the movie more.
I’m a sucker for monster movies, and since this one’s not awful, I didn’t hate it. I just kept hoping—pleading, really—that it would be better.
I kept thinking, why didn’t they work more on the script? Why not write an “A” script for a monster movie? This movie would have rocked with a stronger script! Why settle for less? A little thought would have gone a long way in making WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US more interesting.
For example, we have this group of werewolf hunters coming into town. Why? Why are they killing werewolves? Are they doing it just for kicks? Do they get their jollies killing werewolves? Where did they come from? How did they get together? And if they’re not doing it for fun, then they must be doing it for money. Who in the village is paying them? Simple details like this build strong stories. Are these hunters like THE SEVEN SAMARAI? What’s their story?
WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US also lacks a strong werewolf. Werewolves make for interesting characters. They are full of conflict. Just ask Larry Talbot. But this movie doesn’t offer us any one like Talbot. The story tries but never gets beyond the superficial. It never gets inside the werewolf’s head.
All of this is too bad, because WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US looks great and features an old-fashioned monster story that, with just a little more care behind it, could have been a lot better. As it stands, WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US is merely a minor, mediocre monster movie that never burns as bright as a full moon should.
I give it two knives.
© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda
Michael Arruda gives WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US ~ two knives!