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Werewolf: The Beast Among Us

Year: 2012
Production Co: Universal 1440Entertainment
Director: Louis Morneau
Writer: Michael Tabb/Catherine Cyran/Louis Morneau
Cast: Ed Quinn, Guy Wilson, Stephen Rea

It's with less a feeling of trepidation than resignation I added this movie to my Netflix queue. There not only hasn't been a good werewolf movie since Dog Soldiers, there's hardly been a werewolf movie worth watching since then at all. A couple of recent efforts called Late Phases, Wolves and Werewolf Rising should have been deleted from the production company server before they had a chance to release them, so I started Werewolf: The Beast Among Us with a deep sigh.

10 minutes in, I found myself being won over, liking it (and being glad to). Don't get me wrong, it's not good, but it's got a lot of stuff no werewolf movie's had for years. For one thing it's cohesive. The story, about a medieval village (where they all speak with American accents) under siege by a werewolf curse is straight up and down. There are plenty of cheesy and corny tropes from this style of movie that you've seen a million times, but director Louis Morneau, along with his co-writers Michael Tabb and Catherine Cyran, really lean in to them, embracing them and making them somehow feel welcome no matter how hammy.

There's also - crucially – blood and guts, with bodies torn open, limbs sliced off and viscera splashed liberally around the village and forest. They had the good grace to at least remember that the werewolf is a fixture from the horror genre and that eating people is a predominant feature of the mythology, where plenty of films that have come before have either gone for PG ratings or the werewolves had stood in for any number of other narrative cyphers that rendered them redunant.

It also employs the best possible structure to see the creature that was laid down by Jaws and Alien so long ago, building slowly up to it, stoking anticipation and finally giving us a decent enough look at the creature despite the low VFX budget.

The plot, so far as you're interested, is about a young medical prodigy who falls in with a travelling werewolf hunting troupe, convinced he can play a part in finding and destroying the beast terrorising his village – one more powerful and apparently smarter than all the rest.

There's a love interest, a grizzled mentor figure, a third act twist and an Avengers-style team of superheroes all with their own foibles and personalities, including a very chintzy Man With No Name type in the lead. I can't remember if there's any nudity, but if not it's the only thing missing that's usually found in this style of movie. It's earnest and no-nonsense with no ambitions above its station, and it raises a decent number of wry smiles.

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