Movies based on video games don’t have a good reputation. But maybe, Hollywood has been focusing on the wrong kind of games. Or the wrong type of filmmakers. Werewolves Within has some serious bite and weirdly works as it’s based on Ubisoft’s virtual reality game. Is this the one to break the video-game-turns-movie-curse? Quoting Mr. Rogers in the opening slide of your movie is a genius thing to start with.
Soon after newly arrived forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson – Promising Young Woman) meets Beaverfield’s small town citizens, a snowstorm traps him and this weird group of residents inside the local inn. A proposed gas pipeline has been the cause of divisive opinions, but it’s actually a mysterious creature that’s been terrorising the community that’s suddenly on everyone’s mind. Together with postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub – This Is Us), Finn will uncover the truth behind all of this town’s secrets.
Director Josh Ruben (Scare Me) skilfully creates an atmosphere that’s necessary for this kind of horror comedy. Combined with clever editing that often makes fun of tropes that have been overused in big blockbusters, he not only benefits from visual gags but also Mishna Wolff‘s creative and witty screenplay. The jokes didn’t always land for me, but there’s so many of them you’ll definitely find the overall experience enjoyable. There’s a specific politically interesting undertone that intrigued me so much, I’m interested to see what Wolff and Ruben will come up with next.
Besides that, Wolff has also developed such interesting and fully fleshed out characters, you can’t help but root for at least one of them. You have a couple of rednecks, a woman obsessed with her tiny dog who has her own agenda amidst the pipeline drama, a gay couple you’d expect to live in a much bigger city than this cold town in the middle of nowhere… there’s so much happening you can’t help but say “WTF” a few times. The entire cast is clearly having fun, and that’s contagious. Especially Vayntrub, Sarah Burns (Barry) and Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows) are absolutely brilliant, never missing a mark and still doing things in the background that are worth your attention.
With a solid R-rating, I did expect it to be much gorier which it definitely could’ve been considering the amount of killing that happens throughout, but it didn’t change how fun this movie really is. Werewolves Within is a cult horror comedy by definition and will definitely find a pack that’ll religiously rewatch it every year around Christmas.
WEREWOLVES WITHIN opens in theatres and drive-ins June 25th. Everywhere you rent movies July 2nd.
Review – Werewolves Within
Reviewed online (screener provided by IFC Films), June 7, 2021. Rating: R. Running time: 97 min.
PRODUCTION: An IFC Films release of a Ubisoft Film and Television, Ubisoft, Vanishing Angle production. Producers: Jason Altman, Margaret Boykin, Andrew Lieberman, Natalie Metzger, Matt Miller, Benjamin Wiessner.
CREW: Director: Josh Ruben. Writer: Mishna Wolff. Cinematography: Matt Wise. Editing: Brett W. Bachman. Music: Anna Drubich.
CAST: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, .