To date, Hollywood’s track record adapting video games to movies is … not good. A quick check at Rotten Tomatoes shows that movie adaptations of video games are almost universally ‘rotten’. At the bottom of the barrel, movies like House of the Dead (and just about every Uwe Boll movie) are absolute stinkers. But middling efforts like Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat have won over some fans. And the Resident Evil franchise’s box office success may explain Hollywood’s need to repeatedly go back to the well. Yet somewhere amongst the least likely candidates for a movie adaptation was VR role-playing game, Werewolves Within. So it’s surprising to discover that this horror-comedy is now officially the highest rated video game-to-movie adaptation.
Forest ranger Finn Wheeler arrives at the small isolated town Beaverfield for his new deployment. What he finds is a town of quirky residents feuding over a proposed pipeline. Things take a turn for the worse however, when a snowstorm knocks out the town’s power and cuts them off. And Ranger Wheeler’s first day on the job gets worse quickly. Something kills a resident’s dog over night. Later Ranger Wheeler discovers someone or something destroyed all of the town’s generators. When Wheeler finds the body of a missing resident’s husband under a porch, badly mangled, everyone takes shelter in the town’s lodge. As the night creeps by, the residents begin to suspect that one of them is a killer. Or worse.
Werewolves Within Delivers a Wildly Fun Mix of Humour and Horror
Almost straight out of the gate, Werewolves Within hits the right mix of humour and horror. As local mail carrier Cecily Moore introduces Ranger Finn Wheeler (and us) to Beaverfield’s eccentric residents, the jokes come effortlessly. Writer Mishna Wolff excels at quick, witty banter and dialogue. And much of the movie’s humour comes from its characters’ rapid back-and-forth exchanges. In addition, director Josh Reuben (Scare Us) quickly strands these crazy folks together to set the main story in motion. What Werewolves Within then gives us is reminiscent of a horror-inspired Clue. Older horror fans may even see a bit of Amicus Productions’ 1974 The Beast Must Die. It’s an entertaining whodunnit with the expected red herrings that channels the best of Agatha Christie.
What Werewolves Within then gives us is reminiscent of a horror-inspired Clue.
Now some horror fans will note the lack of werewolf action. And yes, Werewolves Within keeps its lycanthrope offscreen for the majority of its runtime. Most of the movie’s over-the-top carnage comes courtesy of its increasingly paranoid residents. In this regard, Reuben ensures there’s still a decent helping of fun gore. Some of the movie’s middle act drags a bit. Certainly, there’s some bloat that Reuben could have trimmed down. Nevertheless, it’s a minor issue that quickly resolves itself once the movie shifts into its well-executed climax. Here, horror fans finally get their bit of werewolf and it work without straining the budget.
Werewolves Within Stacked with a Likeable, Talented Cast
Arguably, the cast itself represents one of the best parts of Werewolves Within. If you’re initially confused that the movie’s ominously presented opening scroll is a Mister Rogers’ quote, you won’t be once Reuben introduces us to Sam Richardson’s ‘Ranger Finn Wheeler’. Simply put, Richardson’s deadpan ‘aw shucks’ and ‘golly gee’ delivery instantly endears him to the audience. And Richardson’s chemistry and partnership with Milana Vayntrub’s sharp-tongued ‘Cecily’ serves as the heart of the movie. Both Richardson and Vaynrub need to be in more things. And yes, Werewolves Within has a heart. Even as you’re trying to figure out who might be the werewolf, you’ll be amused and endeared by each of the cast in turn.
…Richardson’s deadpan ‘aw shucks’ and ‘golly gee’ delivery instantly endears him to the audience.
Among the standouts, Michaela Watkins and Michael Chernus’ unlikely husband-and-wife provide many of the movie’s laughs. Comedian Sarah Burns is a whacked out presence, whereas Harvey Guillen disperses a few biting one-liners here and there. That Werewolves Within knows when to bring these characters to the forefront and when to ease back is a testament to Wolff’s screenplay. And while he’s not in much of the movie, Glenn Fleshler delivers some perfect subtle humour as the town’s resident recluse who learns the value of neighbours.
Werewolves Within a Fun Horror-Comedy with Heart
While it’s probably a little longer than it needed to be, Werewolves Within is absolutely fun horror-comedy. Best of all, the movie’s humour comes from a mix of witty banter and quirky, memorable characters. But what’s surprising about Werewolves Within is just how much you end up liking its characters. If you had to be stranded in a wintry mansion with a werewolf you could do a lot worse than these characters. If there’s not much werewolf action, it’s very much in keeping with the movie’s emphasis on the ‘whodunnit’ story. Besides there’s more than enough zany gore to go along with the banter and red herrings.