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Werewolves Within (A Movie Review)

Updated: Aug 23, 2021


Starring Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillén, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins, Glenn Fleshler, Patrick M. Walsh Jr. and Anni Krueger.

Screenplay by Mishna Wolff.

Directed by Josh Ruben.

Distributed by IFC Films. 97 minutes. Rated R.

Werewolves Within is an example of that most elusive of creatures – not a werewolf, but a movie based on a video game that doesn’t suck.

Now, honestly, I had never heard of the Werewolves Within game before this film was coming out, so I do not know how faithful the movie is to the game. For example, I believe that the game takes place in a medieval European village, while the film is set in a small town in modern New England. Therefore, to my knowledge, all the two projects may have in common is their title and a very basic storyline.

Nonetheless, I say it again. Werewolves Within is a pretty good movie – and it’s based on a game. Who would have thunk?

Werewolves Within is a horror comedy, and honestly the comic aspects work better than the horror ones. This is particularly true because the filmmakers were smart enough to make sure that a lot of the cast is known for comedy.

Sam Richardson, who was so funny as Richard Spliett in Veep and adds comic relief to next week’s release of The Tomorrow War, finally gets a starring role as Finn Wheeler, the extraordinarily nice new ranger in the town of Beaverfield. He is moving to the new town because of a recent breakup that he’s not quite over, as well as a shadowy indiscretion on his last job.

“Welcome to Beaverfield. It’s a freakshow,” he is greeted by Cecily, the town’s mailman. (“Mailperson,” she corrects. “Gender’s a construct.”) She is played by Milana Vayntrub, an actress and comedian who is probably best known for playing AT&T store clerk Lily in a long-running series of ads. And she has some amazing comic timing and a really terrific delivery. I really, really hope this role leads to more acting work for her.

The previous mailman in town has disappeared. No one knows exactly what happened, but there are rumors of a werewolf running wild. The town is full of eccentrics – a FOX-News obsessed couple, a gay couple who moved here to escape the city, a rough-hewn mechanic and her husband, the likable innkeeper’s wife (whose husband has also mysteriously disappeared) and a hermit big game hunter who does not want to interact with the town, There are also a couple of other outsiders, an oilman who wants to buy up property in town to create a pipeline, and an environmentalist doctor who is there to fight it.

Like everything else, the town is severely divided on the idea of the pipeline – with the one wife insisting her lawn sign was knocked down by “Antifa.” Things are very intense in town even before the bodies start piling up. Someone may be a werewolf and absolutely no one trusts anyone else.

The more the killing goes on, Werewolves Within loses the plot a bit, but it still opens interesting questions: Is there even a werewolf, or is the town just tearing itself apart (figuratively and eventually literally) through all its divides? Is the idea of the werewolf just the match which lit the explosive situation?

Half the fun is finding out, so I won’t spoil the surprise. However, I will say that Werewolves Within is a pretty delightful surprise and one of the funnier movies of the year.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: June 25, 2021.

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