James Jay Edwards

Werewolves Within Is a Perfect Creature Feature Whodunnit

(Werewolves Within, courtesy IFC Films)

James Jay Edwards reviews Werewolves Within, a comedy horror film inspired by the video game, directed by Josh Ruben and starring Sam Richardson. (IFC Films

 

Two horror trends that have recently become bland and boring are zombies and vampires. In the case of the former, the problem is complete oversaturation, with just about every filmmaker and television channel taking the easy way out with a zombie concept. For the latter, the blame can be placed squarely on the Twilight saga, a pop culture phenomenon that has literally taken the bite right out of what was once a fearsome mythological creature.

Luckily, werewolves have not suffered the same cinematic fate as zombies and vampires. Mostly because of creative movies like Werewolves Within.

 

(Werewolves Within, theatrical release poster, courtesy IFC Films)

Werewolves Within is about a small town called Beaverfield that is right in the pathway of a proposed oil pipeline. A new forest ranger named Finn (Veep’s Sam Richardson) arrives just in time to find himself in the middle of the debate between money and science. Oh, and there’s also a strange creature roaming the town at night and stalking the citizens. When a bad snowstorm strands everyone inside of an inn with no power, suspicions are raised immediately. One of the people in the building is thought to be a werewolf, and the rest are trapped inside with them. But is there really a lycanthrope in their midst, or is the killer just someone who really wants to win the oil pipeline fight?

Werewolves Within was adapted by writer Mishna Wolff (perfect name, right?) and director Josh Ruben (the filmmaker behind last year’s Scare Me) from, of all things, a video game. The game itself is a Virtual Reality detective game where players try to guess whom among them in a medieval village is a werewolf. So, basically, the movie is the game put onscreen with a fun and hilarious cast set in modern times. The viewer just watches the action instead of participating in it.

 

(Werewolves Within, photo by Sabrina Lantos, courtesy IFC Films)

Title notwithstanding, Werewolves Within is less of a werewolf movie and more of a whodunnit. The entire ensemble is essentially trapped in a single location, all tasked with figuring out which one of them is trying to kill the rest. It’s the same concept as everything from Clue to Bad Times at the El Royale. Heck, it’s even the same general plot of just about every slasher movie from the eighties. But the fact that the killer is suspected of being a werewolf just raises the stakes. We haven’t had a murder mystery this fun since 1974’s The Beast Must Die.

A lot of that fun is because of the colorful characters. Beaverfield has a real Twin Peaks vibe to it, and the denizens of the town are, in a word, really weird. They’re all stereotypes, from the borderline-offensive depiction of the gay couple to the politely hostile portrayals of the oil huckster and the environmental scientist. And every character is a red herring. Just when you think everything is revealed, the only thing that is actually revealed is that nothing is revealed. And you’re back to square one.

 

(Werewolves Within, photo by Sabrina Lantos, courtesy IFC Films)

If you like your horror with a heaping helping of deadpan comedy, Werewolves Within is for you. If you like your movies to be equal parts Knives Out and The Howling, with just a dash of The Twilight Zone’s “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” Werewolves Within is also for you. It’s a wacky mashup, but that makes for the perfect combination of moonlight murder, mystery, and mayhem. Everything you might want from a werewolf movie.

Werewolves Within is in select theaters now and will hit VOD on July 2nd.

 

 

Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.

 

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