Werewolves Within is the perfect summer movie, a funny whodunit to watch with your friends. This is the type of film to see in theaters if it's playing near you. After a werewolf attacks a small town, the community needs to come together to find the culprit before it’s too late. What follows is 90 minutes of hilarity and entertainment, resulting in horror-comedy gold and one of this year's best genre features.
Directed by Josh Ruben and written by Mishna Wolff, the film is based on a video game by Red Storm Entertainment. Nice guy Finn (Sam Richardson) moves to the small town of Beaverfield after reassignment as a forest ranger. There, he meets a wild cast of characters, including the quirky and outspoken postal work, Cecily, played by Milana Vayntrub. Richardson and Vayntrub do a fine job in the lead roles and have natural chemistry together, including a few perfectly executed scenes that toy with their characters' attraction to each other, while Finn is still hung up on his ex.
The rest of the characters are less developed and serve as comedy or werewolf fodder. Yet, the film works so well because of the ensemble cast. There’s a gay couple out of place in the small town. There’s a reclusive hunter who threatens to shoot anyone who steps foot on his property. There’s a husband and wife who lose their dog to the big bad wolf, and there’s a menacing business tycoon, Sam (Wayne Duvall), who insists that the town bend to his will and allow him to build a pipeline. The divide over the pipeline is a clever subplot that adds tension to the story and shows how such an environmental issue can tear a small town apart and pit neighbor against neighbor. It’s also clear why some people who struggle financially wouldn’t mind some money in exchange for their land. This issue is handled well but never dominates the film. The town itself, meanwhile, becomes an intriguing character and location unto itself, having fallen on hard times and desperate for economic resurgance and relevance. There's also a nice mix of exterior shots featuring heavily wooded areas to reinforce the sense of isolation and danger and interior locations with crackling fireplaces.
Werewolves Within isn’t a movie heavy on a political message. It’s a fun romp about a small town under attack. Anyone can be a suspect, and it’s unlikely that the viewer will guess who howls and transforms during the full moon. In fact, I was surprised by the last act once the werewolf was finally revealed. Ruben and Wolff do an excellent job keeping the identity of the lyncanthrope fully disclosed until the closing minutes, and there are plenty of red herrings to keep the audience guessing and diving down different rabbit holes.
Further, the film isn't heavy on long, drawn out action sequences and even though it’s a movie about a werewolf, it’s not very gory, either. As mentioned, Vayntrub and Richardson really carry the film. Their characters have a lot of heart, especially Richardson's Finn. He’s a refreshing lead and an anti-action hero of sorts. He doesn't pack stockpiles of guns to hunt the werewolf. Instead, he cares about the small town and pleads with the neighbors to come together and be good to each other in order to solve the crime. I hope we see Richardson in more films because he’s the real highlight of this one. He’s the opposite of Sam, who wants to impose his will on everyone and force the pipeline, environmental consequences be damned. Sam makes for a good human villain in stark opposition to Finn's kumbaya mentality.
Werewolves Within is the perfect mix of comedy and frights with a cast that plays off each other well for laughs. It reaches a satisfying conclusion after a few well-scripted twists and turns. This is the perfect bit of escapism we can all use right now.
The film will release in theaters on June 25 and then VOD on July 2 through IFC Films.
Follow HorrOrigins Social Media