Originally intended on being a follow-up to the 2010 remake of ‘The Wolfman’ prior to that film’s box office failure, Universal 1440 Entertainment’s ‘Werewolf: The Beast Among Us’ is a direct-to-DVD werewolf flick that was reconfigured into a stand-alone story that’s not directly connected to Joe Johnson’s remake, but does contain a few minor elements that link it to Universal’s legacy – including the famous “even a man who is pure in heart” poem.
Set in the late 19th century, a European village is plagued by a savage and rare Werewolf that can transform three nights in a row during the lunar cycle – as the moon waxes and wanes – and not just when full. Desperate to get rid of the deadly beast, a small handful of villagers travel to find and hire a group of notorious werewolf hunters lead by Charles (Ed Quinn) to slay the beast once and for all. Charles, along with his team, which consists of Stefan (Adam Croasdell), Kazia (Ana Ularu), Hyde (Steven Bauer), and Fang (Florin Piersic Jr), accepts the job and heads to the village. Once there they meet Daniel (Guy Wilson), the young apprentice to Doc (Stephen Rea), who offers his services to the hunters and refuses to take “no” for an answer. Daniel and Doc have been on the front lines, sorting through and examining all of the corpses, as well as treating the wounded – even going so far as to quickly take out anyone who may have been inflicted – and Daniel is eager to do whatever it takes to protect his fellow citizens. However, the Werewolf demonstrates human intelligence as it avoids all the traps set to capture it, and it’s soon discovered that each of its victims were targeted attacks. As the Werewolf proves to be a challenge for the hunters, the villagers begin to suspect and turn on each other, but the identity of the Werewolf may not be who anyone expects… even to the one who is the Werewolf.
Even though it’s a direct-to-video film, ‘Werewolf: The Beast Among Us’ does have some solid production value behind it. The sets, particularly that of the village, and the costumes help cement and sell the period that this film takes place in; The action sequences are competently shot and choreographed, and keep the film fun and engaging; Just as with the remake of ‘The Wolfman’, the visual effects here are a mixed bag. The practical effects and gore are really good, especially when it showcases the aftermath of the Werewolf’s brutal attacks, and the practical design for the werewolf itself is also well done. However, the biggest problem with the effects in this movie is the use of CGI for the transformation and with some of the action sequences involving the werewolf. That said, I’ve seen far worse CGI werewolves, even in theatrically released films.
While the characters and acting aren’t exactly remarkable, they are suitable. Stephen Rea and Guy Wilson give the best performances of the movie, while Adam Croasdell chews it up as the member of the hunters with the most personality. Ed Quinn, Ana Ularu, Steven Bauer, Nia Peeples, Rachel DiPillo, and Florin Piersic Jr are all fine as well. There isn’t really any bad performances, and any criticisms I would have about these characters is at fault of the writing and dialogue.
The first two-thirds of the film are solid, effectively establishing the world that this story takes place in and its ensemble of characters. The identity reveal of the Werewolf is handled well and I liked the idea that this person isn’t fully aware of their condition, but unfortunately everything that comes after this revelation is where the film begins to fall apart. On top of the issue of the CGI transformation, as described above, there’s also a forced subplot involving a character who has their own dark secret. This character is a bit antagonistic towards Daniel throughout the entire movie, but it could have been seen in a playful ball-busting way, but instead this person shifts into a secondary villain for no real particular reason. While it’s cool to see them open up the world a bit by introducing other supernatural beings in it, it just really serves no purpose.
Overall, ‘Werewolf: The Beast Among Us’ is a fun and entertaining direct-to-video Werewolf film with a decent story, decent characters and acting, and is at its strongest in the first two acts, but stumbles a bit in its resolution. If you like werewolf movies, this is worth checking out. Just don’t expect a masterpiece.
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