Werewolves Within wants so badly to be the dark comedic horror flicks that Sam Raimi and especially Edgar Wright made bank on, but I found myself actually rooting for the mostly absent werewolf halfway through.
This movie seems like a demo of a far better movie that needed a lot more work and a little more subtleness. Set in the frozen secluded wilderness town of Beaverfield, the movie deals with a newly arrived forest ranger, Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) who notices a lot of odd people in the town. They’re all divided over a proposed pipeline by businessman, Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall). The characters consist of a lot of stereotypes (macho conservative men, hyperactive eccentric housewives who cherish their furbabies above anything else, a wealthy progressive same-sex couple, a trashy redneck couple).
There’s also Cecily Moore (Milana Vayntrub, mostly recognizable from the AT&T commercials) as the town’s sole postal carrier who quickly befriends Finn as she shows him around the small town telling him about the people. It doesn’t take long for people to realize something is going on that doesn’t seem right.
A blizzard takes out all the power of the town as well as access to the Internet. One of the townspeople’s toy dog is attacked by an unknown assailant. Everyone gathers in the nearby lodge where they quickly begin to point fingers at each other because they can’t get along. This has been done before and typical of a lot of horror comedies. It’s almost like The Thing meets Northern Exposure as well as having the political/social satire of a George A. Romero movie. But it’s dialed up so much that is doesn’t work and everyone overacts.
Wright was able to do this correctly in his movie, Shaun of the Dead. And director Josh Ruben throws in a lot of quirky music like Wright to set the tone. At one point, events do climax at a local bar/pub. But it doesn’t have the same humor as that movie. Part of the problem was Wright was making a zombie movie first with many elements of comedy added in the mix. You could tell the undead were walking around devouring people.
There’s so much question on whether a werewolf even exists that the big reveal doesn’t come in until the last 15 minutes of the movie. Most people point the finger to Emerson Flint (Glenn Fleshler) a burly reclusive character. But everyone knows he’s a red herring. You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what is happening and who is responsible.
Part of the problem is certain characters exist only for us to think they’re the ones and then realize they’re not. They’re not even one-dimensional. And that’s where this movie falls apart. And falls apart so badly. It tries to hard to be a comedy of errors that it forgets to be a horror movie as well.
This is bad because Vayntrub has a good screen presence that most have only seen in commercials. And Richardson of VEEP fame, plays against the heroic stereotype in most of these movies. Despite being a big guy, Finn is what some would consider a Beta male as he’s still in denial over a previous relationship that he hasn’t fully realized is over. Being the only law enforcement officer in the area, he can barely keep order as the craziness increases around him.
These two would’ve worked better in a different movie that wasn’t more concerned with being over the top. They have a nice rapport with each other.
What do you think? Please comment.