Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Paul Hyett
Cast: Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Elliot Cowan, Sam Gittins
It isn’t often we see high quality werewolf films. For some odd reason they’re a serious rarity. Outside of classics like An American Werewolf in London, The Howling and Wolf – and more recent killer affairs like Late Phases and Wer – these are hard treats to come by.
Enter director Paul Hyett’s new lycanthropic terror piece, Howl. A film that gets it right, Howl blends human tension and monster assault wonderfully. It’s a beautiful piece of work that hits all the right notes, looks absolutely stellar and from time to time, actually manages to frighten the viewer.
To summarize the story, we’ll say that a train full of obnoxious passengers find themselves in a life or death situation when their train is disabled. How was it disabled? The monstrosities lurking in the woods, surrounding the locomotive, that’s how.
Once the wheels have come to a screeching halt the tension truly escalates. Passengers want to know what in the hell is going on. People have places to be, things to do. But no one is going anywhere, especially not off the train. There are monsters outside – more specifically, werewolves… and they’re hungry.
Can a band of mis-matched personalities come together to fend off the animals, or will they be eaten one by one? You probably know the answer to that, so I won’t spoil it for you!
Howl’s cinematography is brilliant, and the settings in general look not only convincing, they look profoundly chilling. Think about the moment when we see David and Jack wandering the foggy London moors in An American Werewolf in London. Think about the dread that not only overwhelms them, but overwhelms the audience as well. Well, Howl has a lot of that vibe going for it. It looks downright terrifying and the camera work is superb.
As for the monsters, it must be said that while there is certainly some CGI to get beyond, the creatures themselves do look terrific. They’re intimidating beasts and the last place anyone wants to be with these nasties is trapped on a train.
The writing is terrific, the characters are diverse and in some cases relatable and the conflicts that sprout between virtually everyone feel quite organic. Screenwriters Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler do a stellar job of generating interest in man and monster in equal measure.
There’s a fine finale in wait, and a staggering body count that guides us to the finale. Actor Ed Speleers emerges an excellent talent. He’s an unlikely hero, but he’s a hero that fans can really get behind. Can he survive one very long night of terror? That remains to be seen.
Howl has a little bit of everything. Gore, laughs, tension, romance and memorable monsters. And if you’re on the prowl for a legitimately good werewolf film, you’re on the prowl for Howl. This is a riveting picture that keeps you on the edge of your seat right from the jump!