Werewolf: The Beast Among Us Blu-ray Review
Directed by Louis Morneau
Written by Michael Tabb and Catherine Cyran
2012, Region B, 93 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 22nd October 2012
Ed Quinn as Charles
Ana Ularu as Kazia
Rachel DiPillo as Eva
Adam Croasdell as Stefan
Guy Wilson as Daniel
Vampires have been en vogue for a while now and the ever-popular, but increasingly unimaginative, zombie still shuffles ever onward. Now, if the last couple of years are to be believed, it looks like the turn of the werewolf to be the monster of choice. We’ve had a fourth installment of the Underworld series, Awakening, Benicio Del Toro in a modern interpretation of The Wolfman and the distinctly British Strippers Vs. Werewolves. Even the Spanish have jumped in on the action with their recently-to-UK-DVD Attack of the Werewolves (aka Game of Werewolves). Adding another chapter to the genre is the studio that started it all, Universal, with the supposed spinoff from Del Toro’s Wolfman, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us.
I tell a lie. W:TBAU is kin to Universal, but produced by their home entertainment (ie straight to video) arm Universal 1440 Entertainment. They have also produced the forthcoming Curse of Chucky.
Set in the 19th century, in an eastern European country where most people speak with American accents, W:TBAU follows a group of traveling beast-hunters that makes its living solving the lycanthropic problems of small towns and villages for a hefty fee. While drinking in a tavern they hear stories of a nearby town with a fearsome wolf that no mercenary has yet been able to kill. Expecting a challenge, they set off to offer their services to the people in return for a fat stack of cash. The town doctor’s apprentice, Daniel, manages to wangle a place with the hunters. He handles all the bodies from the many kills, so not only does he have first-hand experience, he also has a supply of fresh meat for their traps. But this is no ordinary werewolf; it’s smart and discerning, targeting only the lowlife of the town’s brothels and drinking dens and evading all attempts by the team to kill it.
The first thing that strikes you when watching this Blu-ray is how clean and crisp everything looks. Not just from the high definition format either. It reminds me of a TV production where even the Transylvanian (yes, it was actually shot there) township, that should be grubby and grimy, littered with the corpses of victims, looks like a scene out of a Universal Studios Theme Park ride. Then there’s the anachronisms; this is supposedly the 19th century and yet the female eye-candy of the team wears WWII flying goggles and brandishes a flamethrower. I half expected that at some point she might get out her iPhone and post a status update. “Just torched a werewolf. LOL”
It’s silly and it’s cheap for sure, lead Ed Quinn is all cowboy hat and trench coat like Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing on a budget. One of the team has a horse that lost its back legs to a beast, so they replaced them with cartwheels. And Adam Croadsell’s Stefan is supposed to be suave and sophisticated (naturally, he’s English) but just comes off as cringe-inducing in most scenes. That said, there’s a reasonable amount of fun to be had with this film. The werewolves are a mix of average CGI and fairly decent practical effects and the blood chefs went to town to make it a nicely gory affair. Doctor’s apprentice Daniel spends a lot of his time dragging mauled corpses around and when the beast attacks, it favours ripping its victims’ innards out or pulling limbs off over a simple bite.
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is pure, campy hokum. It’s not going to add to Universal’s legacy of classic monsters, but it might just fill an empty evening.
Video and Audio:
The picture (as mentioned above) is very clean, but really just looks too clean for this type of film. No doubt a result of the digital photography, but there’s been no attempt to make it look even remotely like film in post-production. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio track, which is no good for my amp, so I was reduced to the DTS, which is strangely balanced in favour of VERY LOUD action scenes with quieter dialogue. I found myself constantly on the volume button to get a comfortable level.
There are a bunch of deleted scenes on the disc that offer pretty much what most deleted scenes do: very little. There are also three featurettes: Making the Monster, Transformation: Man to Beast and Monster Legacy. Among them they give some good glimpses of the practical effects work and the werewolf costume, but the talking heads sequences are pure fluff where the actors enthuse about how honoured they are to be part of Universal’s legacy of the werewolf. Honestly guys, people will still remember Lon Chaney long after they’ve forgotten you.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*