Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: Werewolf by Night Follows a lycanthrope superhero who fights evil using the abilities given to him by a curse brought on by his bloodline.
Review: Marvel you sneaky devils! Just when I think I know exactly what your next installment would look like, you hit us with something totally unexpected. Or at least unexpected to THIS marvel fan as Werewolf by Night turned out to be one helluva Halloween treat!
Based on the comic series of the same name, Werewolf by Night was the MCU studios first “seasonal” event special. Which is to say the equivalent of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror annual episode but on a much bigger scale.
It begins with the story of an infamous monster hunter called Ulysses Bloodstone who has died and so his wife Verusa (loving these names btw) gathers some of the world’s greatest hunters to not only pay their respects but to also take part in a hunt. This particular hunt is special though as the first one to kill the monster that has been captured and hidden on the maze-like property gets the powerful Bloodstone for themselves. Among the group of hunters there are two that may have their own motives for being there. One is called Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal) who if you’ve seen the poster for the show is obviously NOT there to hunt monsters, and the other Elsa Bloodstone, daughter of Ulysses, who doesn’t agree with the hunt or her parents’ way of doing things but who wants the Bloodstone, which she considers her legacy, for herself.
Making his debut as director is legendary composer Michael Giacchino, and I’m not exaggerating when I call him legendary as this man’s filmography is astounding! He’s also no stranger to the Marvel universe having scored many of their films including Doctor Strange and Thor: Love and Thunder, but Werewolf by Night is his directorial debut and what a debut it is!
Taking inspiration from the old Universal monster movies Giacchino shoots most of Werewolf by Night in black and white, utilising lighting in beautiful ways to create gorgeous scenes of light and shadows. Shooting in black and white also gave them the chance to show more gruesome moments without actually scarring any younger viewers watching. There aren’t a lot of horrific moments here but the ones they show were quite surprising considering this is a Disney property. It also goes without saying the score is pitch perfect with a story that evokes not only the classic monster movies but also the more soap drama-like ones we got in the 60’s courtesy studios like Hammer Films.
So we’ve established the movie both looks and sounds great but what about the story? Well, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying Jack turns out to be one of the very monsters people like this hunt and his reason for being there has to do with saving his friend who is the subject of the night’s hunt. I thoroughly enjoyed this but I would be lying if I said I didn’t want more. The characters here are visually intriguing and we’re told the hunters are the best in the world, but we never TRULY get a sense of their abilities, which seemed like a missed opportunity. This may have been due to the 53 minute runtime or maybe it’s because Disney and Marvel wanted to leave us wanting more. Werewolf by Night television show anyone?
While the hunters may not have been given the opportunity to show off their skills, actor Gael Garcia Bernal is charming and quietly charismatic in the role, while Harriet Sansom Harris steals every scene she’s in as the somewhat unhinged Verusa. Carey Jones as Man-Thing manages to stand out as not just another Marvel monster but a character you most definitely want to see more of, and I appreciated how much effort went into making sure he looked just like his comic book counterpart.
If Werewolf by Night was an experiment by Marvel to expand beyond the standard super hero stories, I would count it as a successful one. While the story itself doesn’t offer a lot beyond what feels like a pilot episode instead of a movie, the actors are memorable and the cinematography shines brightly enough to blind you to the story’s shortcomings. I would definitely be on board for more movies and shows from Michael Giacchino and his team. So from the bottom of my horror loving heart, here’s hoping the MCU will be bring us more content like this in the future.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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