WEREWOLVES WITHIN (2021) Reviews and overview

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Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, Catherine Curtin, Harvey Guillen, Cheyenne Jackson, George Basil and Sarah Burns in WEREWOLVES WITHIN

Werewolves Within is a 2021 comedy horror film and an adaptation of the video game where werewolves attack a medieval town. Unlike the game, the movie’s setting is contemporary.

Directed by Josh Ruben (Scare Me) from a screenplay written by Mishna Wolff, based on the virtual reality video game by Ubisoft. Produced by Jason Altman, Margaret Boykin, and Andrew Lieberman for Ubisoft Film & Television; Matt Miller, Natalie Metzger, and Benjamin Wiessner for Vanishing Angle; and Sam Richardson.

The movie stars Sam Richardson (Veep; Detroiters), Milana Vayntrub (This is Us), George Basil (Crashing), Sarah Burns (Barry), Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall (The Hunt), Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows), Rebecca Henderson (Russian Doll), Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock), Michaela Watkins (Brittany Runs a Marathon) and Glenn Fleshler (True Detective).

After a proposed gas pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield, and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside the local inn, newly arrived forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) must try to keep the peace and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorising the community…

“I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more werewolf in this werewolf movie. The charm of Richardson and Vayntrub and the comedic performances carried me through to the end, but that didn’t stop me from occasionally getting restless due to the lack of on-screen creature attacks. The majority of the film’s 96 minutes are taken up by scenes of the characters having tense but humorous conversations with each other…” Arrow in the Head

Werewolves Within is less interested in werewolves and more interested in exploring how the possibility of one hiding in plain sight can turn a town inside out. It does so by tilting the scale heavily in favor of comedy over scares […] plays like a joyous hug of a comedy-horror movie full of charisma, violent antics, and entertaining character-driven mystery.” Bloody Disgusting

Werewolves Within is certainly not an action movie (which was disappointing but not surprising) but it does have some action-packed moments in the final act of the film. What it does do really well is the classic “who done it” with the added bonus of wondering if there is really a werewolf in the town at all. Good performances throughout from all the cast…” Bulletproof Action

“Between Wolff’s pitch-perfect script that dispenses a steady stream of laughs, a bevy of endlessly engaging performances from a top-notch cast, and a director who clearly is having a blast with both the story and these characters, Werewolves Within is a triumph in every possible way that should please genre enthusiasts and newcomers alike.” Daily Dead

“Even if your theories (and mine) are thrown out the window with every passing victim, it doesn’t mean Werewolves Within isn’t having just as much fun. Be warned, though. Subvert your expectations if you’re dead set on a centerpiece transformation involving extensive animatronics and practical effects.” Dread Central

“Director Josh Ruben does a great job of setting everything up in a tight first act […] The cracks quickly appear before it descends into a deadly game where accusations and axes are thrown with wilful abandon and tongue firmly in cheek. Werewolves Within is an entertaining lycan-throwback to 80s genre cinema and a murder mystery with real bite.” Flick Feast

Werewolves Within has some fun late-game action sequences (even if the story itself is mostly predictable and fails at almost every attempt of misdirection), but the painstakingly grating characters do this one in long before the intensity ramps up. It’s a game of Werewolf filled with so many unlikeable characters that it’s hard to muster up any energy to play along.” Flickering Myth

“I didn’t actively dislike this film at any point, the main cast members are too likeable or fun to keep that from happening, but it wasn’t ever that good. It’s not that funny, and the lycanthropy is barely a part of the film […] It’s pleasant enough for the duration, and doesn’t run too long, but it’s a shame that it wasn’t tweaked to increase the comedy, the frights, or both.” For It Is Man’s Number

“Ruben creates a great atmosphere and in the third act, keeps a fantastic pace and manages some excellent jump scares that also have a comedic punchline to them. A well written and directed film, ably helped by a great cast, Werewolves Within is a fun film that you should check out.” Haddonfield Horror

” …often makes fun of tropes that have been overused in big blockbusters, [Josh Ruben] not only benefits from visual gags but also Mishna Wolff‘s creative and witty screenplay. The jokes didn’t always land for me, but there’s so many of them you’ll definitely find the overall experience enjoyable. There’s a specific politically interesting undertone that intrigued me…” Into: Screens

“With quotable dialogue, stylish small-town hijinks, and a cast that’s game for literally anything, Werewolves Within is one majorly fun howler.” Josh at the Movies

“This film is a caricature of what boomers think millennial/ gen-Z humor is given that it is every weak SNL skit from the past decade developed into a full feature. Aside from the drawbacks cited, there does contain some highlights that are worth mentioning such as the setting/ basic structure […] The acting is superb and is delivered in a sincere manner…” Sinful Celluloid

“In terms of the horror portion of the film, there are bits and pieces scattered throughout. But it’s not really the scary time–at least not until maybe the film’s final ten minutes. Trust me, this film runs more to the comedy side of things.” Solzy at the Movies

“Gets off to a fun and vibrant start before crashing into a paltry Agatha Christie clone […] Has humorous moments, but after a while, the jokes become forced and repetitive. The atmosphere is strong, yet horror is seriously lacking.” Splatter Critic

Werewolves Within is light on actual horror. There are a few jump scares, but despite the R rating, there’s only a couple of bloody effects. The emphasis is solidly on mystery and laughs rather than shocks. Even the final showdown, while exciting, is laced with gags. It still manages to be scarier than Hunter’s Moon though.” Voices from the Balcony

Release date:
IFC Films will release Werewolves Within theatrically on June 25th 2021 and On-Demand and Digital on July 2nd 2021.

Director’s statement:
I grew up near the same small town where we shot Werewolves Within. As a kid, I’d freak myself out, making up monster stories, running through the woods, pretending I was Chief Brody, fighting creatures in the brush (I loved Jaws — hell, I loved horror). That hometown experience, where neighbours knew your business (whether you liked it or not) is so much of what makes Werewolves so personal. But, as much as I love horror movies, nothing scares me more than people. And as much as this movie is a homage to my love for Hot Fuzz, the Coen Brothers, and Arachnophobia, it’s also about the monster in all of us.

This movie is a tribute to those of us who are resolute that good conquers evil, and that “being good” is the best weapon we’ve got, against guns, knives, even claws… Sometimes, you just gotta be a good neighbour, no matter how wicked people are.”

“We found a perfect home for our first independently produced feature with IFC,” said Jason Altman, Head of Ubisoft Film & Television. “Their enthusiasm, taste, and strategy in a complicated marketplace continues to impress us, and we can’t wait to bring this film to fans of the game and larger audiences alike.”

Arianna Bocco, President at IFC Films said, “Werewolves Within is a wild and hilarious film adaptation of Ubisoft’s genius original game concept and we are so thrilled to bring this entertaining whodunnit to audiences this summer. Josh Ruben who arrived with Scare Me, has assembled an incredible cast to bring his newest vision to light, and we’re sure it will leave audiences clutching their popcorn and howling from laughter.

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Teaser trailer:



MOVIES and MANIA says:
Josh Ruben’s Scare Me was meta-fun if a tad overlong. Unfortunately, the small town that Werewolves Within is set in is filled with clichéd ‘wacky’ irritating characters who seem like ideal werewolf fodder. This reviewer found the film painfully unfunny (successful comedy is very subjective, of course) even on a second viewing (just to make sure). Puerile attempts at camp are repeated ad infinitum yet rarely hit home. Aside from Richardson and Vayntrub, the ability to mug to the camera seems to have been the criteria for most of the casting.

Beyond its ham-fisted humour, the mystery element, with most deaths occurring offscreen, is astonishingly underdeveloped. ‘Werewolves Without’ would have been a more appropriate title due to the lack of lycanthrope activity. At one point, Finn exclaims: “Is there even a werewolf?” Quite.

Then again, the video game it’s based on seems to be all talk and no werewolf too…

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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