The entity that is the werewolf film needs an enema. A while back, around the release date of one of the new Twilight films, Ted Brown and myself composed a list of 30 vampire and werewolf films we felt people should watch, instead of wasting money on the Twilight franchise. To a genre fan, this sounds simple, right? Well, compiling vampire films worth watching was no trouble. But, when we got to the werewolf section of the article, it was hard enough to find 15 werewolf films in general, let alone 15 werewolf films that were actually good. I’m not sure what it is about this particular sub-genre that causes filmmakers to steer clear. It’s clearly a theme that interest horror movie fans, and even the casual viewer. Is it the trouble you have to go through to create a good looking creature? Is it the effects heavy nature of the project it’s self? I haven’t quite figured it out, but something has to change. Unfortunately, The Howling: Reborn does nothing to breath new life into the genre.
If I’m being completely honest, this new entry into the Howling franchise feels like a screenplay someone write in early 1997, amidst the post-scream modernization of horror craze. There is even the horror nerd character that adds the element of self reference to the film. A werewolf film, partially self aware, but not so much that it becomes a parody of it’s self, much like the later films in the Scream franchise, and it’s imitators. All of the things that made the Scream films appeal to such a wide audience are attempted here. It’s the same formula, for the most part. Replace masked killers with terrible looking werewolves, and you have this film. Even songs made popular by Scream and other films like it were utilized in the soundtrack. It’s as if someone wrote this during that point in history, then got drunk and forgot it in a desk drawer. For the most part, I wish they wouldn’t have remembered.
I’m going to be honest, TH:R is not as terrible as the trailer led me to believe it would be. It is at least mildly entertaining. I can see that the producers, along with the art director, and costume designer are attempting to rope in the Twilight crowed here as well. Each character is presented with textbook clique cliches. The nerd is, well.. a nerd, glasses and all. The jocks are very jock….y, and the goth crowd is very emo’esque. No one character has any sort of depth, they just sort of play the type of character they were told to play, it appears. I will give them credit for casting the main character’s love interest with someone I found to be unconventionally beautiful. She’s not HUGE, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nice to see a girl with some curves given the opportunity. I’m so tired of the barbie doll shit we’ve been force fed thus far. Woman have curves people, get over it.
Overall, The Howling: Reborn does nothing to break the trend of shitty werewolf films, in a narrow field of competitors. It could have been worse, of course, but that’s not something one should etch onto a plaque. The film is rated R, but it honestly didn’t feel like it. There’s no real violence to speak of, nothing graphic anyway. There is sexually suggestive scenes, but no sex occurs, nor does any sort of nudity. We’re treated to a few scenes of ALMOST side-boob, but that’s as far as it goes. The effects are cheap, and cheesy as hell. There are a few partial transformation scenes, but nothing that’s going win over fans of the original, or An American Werewolf In London, for that matter. The creature effects appear to be practical for the most part, but that doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t look good at all.
Basically, if you’re like me, and you’re constantly hunting for a new werewolf film to wet your whistle, you may as well keep hunting. You’ve seen this film before, in more forms than one, and unless you absolutely have to, like, if you’re some Howling franchise completist, then there’s no reason to add this to your collection. If you see it streaming on Netflix, which you likely will very soon, you could find a better film, but it would be the suggested method of consuming this one. It’s not a film that made me hostile. I don’t wish any of the people involved in the production to be met with a horrible fate, but I don’t care that the film exists either. It simply is what it is.