November 4, 2015

DVD Review: Howl (2015)
Director Paul Hyett has had himself a pretty impressive career as a makeup/FX artist, working on such British Genre fare as The Descent, Doomsday, Eden Lake, The Children, The Red Riding Trilogy, and Heartless, all of which we loved.

In 2013, he stepped behind the camera to direct one of the most disturbing and gritty movies of the year with The Seasoning House (review HERE.) With a body of work like that behind him, we were pretty excited when we heard that he was directing a werewolf flick. If anyone could deliver a good, gritty creature feature, it would be him, right?

Well, mostly.

Joe is a train guard (that's British for conductor, I think) who hates his job. He just lost out on a promotion; it's clear that he's going to get no respect from his new boss; most of the passengers whom he serves seem to be arseholes; and he can't get a date with the hot trolley girl (that's British for stewardess, I think) no matter how hard he tries.

To make things worse, he gets forced into working a double shift on the night train out of London, which is traveling into the deserted ass-crack of the British countryside. The fact that the hot trolley girl is working with him almost makes putting up with the asshole passengers worth it, although he's tired and not interested in being there at all. 

Also, there's a full moon out.

When the train encounters something on the tracks and is forced to stop, it's not long before Joe realizes that he and everyone else on the train are in grave danger. You see, there's a hungry pack of werewolves (or werewolf-like creatures) out there in the forest that are interested in eating them. Or maybe they just want to kill them. Either way, they're in danger.

Trapped in the train, and forced to fight for their lives, survival, betrayal, and copious bloodletting ensues.

The best way to summarize Howl, is that it's a great B-movie, just like most werewolf movies tend to be. It's bloody enough, and it's intense enough to entertain, but it's also just dumb and frustrating enough to keep it from being a really great movie.

That's really the way it goes with any kind of "shape-changer" movie though; while the really good ones are few and far between, most of them tend to at least be entertaining, if not great. For diehard fans of that sub-genre though, Howl will probably be one that falls into that entertaining category.

The FX in this one were really sharp, although we found the practical FX to be far better than the CGI. We loved how they showed someone slowly turning into a werewolf, with those creepy eyes, and the way that they moved around in a Demonic sort of way (it reminded us of a Deadite for some reason) once the transformation was complete. We really wish that they had done more along this line with the other creatures.

Overall though, the creatures in this movie looked great, being a different sort of hybrid between man and wolf. They were teased perfectly, and revealed in a great way, and they made for a pretty terrifying menace. Those glowing eyes...

They could have played up the "werewolves on a train" aspect of things a bit more though, as they only seemed to lurk outside for most of the movie. I mean, when they finally decided that they wanted to get into the train, it took them no effort at all, so we're just wondering why they waited for so long. I guess the move would have been over too quick had they done so?

We're not sure how it is that the werewolves weren't gone when the moon disappeared either, but maybe that's just a mystery of the movie that we weren't meant to know about. Still, daylight is supposed to be a safe-zone of sorts when it comes to werewolves, and it felt odd.

The ending was also a bit of a bummer, but then again, it ended on the perfect note. I know that sounds confusing, but it was both, and we're conflicted. We also would have really liked to have seen ________ come back (having newly turned into a werewolf) and kill off _________.

That's just us though. We're picky.

Howl isn't going to change the Genre or anything, but overall it's a well-made and entertaining werewolf flick that boasts some good gore; some cool monster FX; and a solid cast, most of whom we rooted for. For fans of werewolf flicks, this is a fun and gory ride that is definitely worth taking.


Howl is available in the UK ONLY on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD. *You'll need a Region-free player to watch the disc though, unless of course you live in the UK or Europe.

*It hits the U.S. in early January.

Holly Weston makes us howl.

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