Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cinema Wonhundred: New Series: Awfully Direct: Werewolf: The Beast Among Us

    It’s a big moment for Cinema Won today. After a year and a half, over 240 posts and several failed series, it’s finally here. This is Cinema Won’s 100th review. And what better way to celebrate this milestone than by starting a new series. You may be wondering what was wrong with Movie Marathon. Well, the problem was the variety I hoped would be added to the blog ended up not happening, as the series I was reviewing took over that month. So, with this new series, I hope to fix that. This is Awfully Direct. This new weekly series (New episodes every Tuesday!) will have me review a movie that was released direct-to-DVD, direct-to-video or made-for-TV, anything but theatrically. And to kick things off, we’ve got a monster. This is Werewolf: The Beast Among Us!

What is Werewolf: The Beast Among Us?

    Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is the 2012 reboot of the 2010 remake of 1941’s The Wolfman, both of which have been previously reviewed. When it was first announced, it was simply called Werewolf, which was more of a direct reboot than the final product and was meant to be released theatrically. As far as I’m aware, production never got all that far, with no director, writers or actors attaching themselves to the film. Most likely, this film was scrapped after the original was less than liked by critics and only made $130 million off of a $150 million dollar budget. And yet, earlier this year, it was announced that this film would be releasing direct-to-DVD as what appeared to be a plan by Universal to create a new DVD monster series.
Three bows seems a bit much,
don't you think?
What’s the plot?

    Again, this series is different from my normal reviews, as I’m going to give full plot summaries of the film. So, obviously, spoiler warning. The film opens in an isolated cabin is in the... past. The film never specifies when it takes place. Here, a family is hiding out from a werewolf, but they don’t do a very good job, as the werewolf gets in and kills the parents, before their son kills it. Now, as far as I can tell, this opening has very little to do with the actually film. It’s possible that one of the main characters in the film is the son, but the film never makes any real connection to this scene, so it’s hard to know from sure. Also, I should, mention that if the opening is any indication, the fight scenes aren’t anything to get excited about. Here, the girl, before turning into a werewolf, sets off a tripwire, which activates a trap several feet behind her. Seriously, I get that the filmmakers wanted to show off the traps, but realistically, that would not nothing!
     That, in fact, is the main problem with this movie. The story seems to be more a convoluted mash-up of horror movie elements. I could never get a real handle on where the characters were at any given point, let alone what they were doing there or how this related to the main plot. This open is a perfect example, as it may actually be a major part of a character’s story, yet there is no way to know for sure, since the movie does tell us.
    So, anyway, we flash forward 25 year to find a group of hunters, hearing about more werewolf attacks. This band, which includes the womanizer Stefan (Adam Croasdell) and the obligatory action girl Kazia (Ana Ularu), is lead by Eureka’s own Nathan Stark, Ed Quinn. The film then brings us to the village, which has suffered a heavy amount of casualties after the last night’s attack. Enter our hero, Michael Cera soundalike Guy Wilson, playing Daniel. Daniel goes to visit his... girlfriend? Eva (Rachel DiPillo), informs Daniel that it’s a good thing he came over when he did, as her father “always sleeps late on nights with a full moon”. Seriously. And, no, her father is not a werewolf. This line of dialogue is so forced and obvious, that the fact that nothing about it, not the implication that her father’s a werewolf, nor the implied dislike of Daniel by Eva’s father, is ever mentioned again, making this line all the more infuriating.

I know. I'm scared of gates too.
    Anyway, Daniel leaves to go to his job, the apprentice to the village doctor (Stephen Rea). There, they cremate the werewolf victim’s bodies and “treat” the wounded. An example of this comes when a man comes in with a badly cut up arm, claiming he fell into his farm equipment. However, the Good Doctor isn’t fooled, knowing it’s a werewolf scratch, and shoots him right there on the spot. Right in front of the farmer’s wife. Because it’s not like he wasn’t an immediate threat or anything.
     Oh, wait. The hunters return, with their scene revealing why this might be. See, after a werewolf victim dies, they become a zombie. Yes, this film even tries to lazily cash in on the zombie craze. But, still, that doesn’t explain the sudden killing of that farmer. He wasn’t dead, so he wouldn't become a zombie, and it was early morning, so he had an entire day before he would become a werewolf. They could have at least let him say good-bye to his wife before blowing his brains out!
    The hunters eventually arrive at the village to accept to hunt offer, when they put a stop to a con man trying to collect the reward. See, apparently, the werewolf-plagued town can’t tell the difference between a werewolf and a freaking wolf with sticks taped to it’s head.!Anyway, Daniel, for no real explained reason other than “I want to be a hero!” decides to join the hunters. This is about the halfway point, and there’s really nothing much happening. 

    See, despite the film’s convoluted plot, the film doesn’t actually do much other than show the hunters find out more information on the beast and go on failed hunts. They find out that, apparently, this beast is one that turns into a werewolf for three straight nights. But the film even muddles up it’s own rules as the majority of the middle is of the hunts for the beast, which span 5 nights. At some point, Daniel and Stark travel to a gypsy camp (For no real reason other than the fact that the originals did it), where the film completely contradicts itself, stating that the beast is one that can change at will and not one that changes every three nights.

Stark is not amused!
    So as the nights continue to pass, the hunters realize that the werewolf is only going after lowlifes and plan to use a lowlife (Apparently the only one left in the town...right...) for bait. They once again get into a poorly CGI-ed fight scene with the beast and lose the fight, letting the werewolf escape. I should probably mention the sub-plot which involves the townspeople locking the werewolf suspects, including Eva’s father and Daniel’s mother (Nia Peeples). in the village jail. It goes nowhere and is never mentioned again. How nice. 
    The next morning, Daniel, who mysteriously disappeared during the hunt makes an awful discovery. Daniel is the werewolf. Yes, really. Now, I will give the movie this, it does a good job with this twist, but it still is completely obvious if you have just a basic understanding of werewolf movie tropes and have the film’s own title, The Beast Among Us, which is a pretty big clue, to go off of. Daniel, in a panic, tells Doc, who reveals that he knew all along and was actually training Daniel to get back at his college colleagues, who made fun of him. This twist is significantly less interesting than the last one. First, how the hell did Doc train a freaking werewolf? Second, ARE YOU SERIOUS! He did this because his colleagues, who we never meet, were a little mean to him. That is so lame that even M. Night Shyamalan would be laughing. Stark, who actually wants to help Daniel, goes to confront Doc, who promptly shoot him. 
    Stefan manages to capture Daniel after he runs from Doc and ties him up in front of the whole village, Eva and Daniel’s mother included, in order to show what a real monster really is. This naturally goes bad as Eva runs away, Daniel turns into a werewolf and goes to rescue Eva. Here, we get the film third, final and most ridiculous twist. Stefan, it turns out, is a vampire. Yes, you read that right. A vampire. There is never a mention of vampire earlier in the film, but here it is, completely without warning. This movies sucks (Get it?). Daniel and Stefan dukes it out over Eva, with Daniel impaling Stefan, winning. Then Doc shows up (God, end the movie already!) only to get shot and killed by a still alive Stark, showing no visible signs of being shot in the gut less than 12 hours earlier. Eva manages to get Daniel to take control (using the power of love!) and turn back into a human and Stark and the rest of the hunters decide to set up a sequel, by letting Daniel live and take over the werewolf hunting business. The film ends as Stark kills a zombie and Kazia sets your TV on fire. What a great ending. Ugh.

This should be cooler.
How Bad is it?
    It’s pretty bad. While the acting is not terrible and the sets are pretty good, the film’s story is so convoluted that I’m not even sure the filmmakers were even sure of what was going on. The film has two twists too many, with both being downright laughable, managing to almost turn this schlock into a comedy. The film often breaks it’s own rules by changing the traits of the title beast in order to try and fill in some of the gaping plotpoints. And lastly, the characters are barely developed. I didn't even know Daniel’s name until Stefan strung him up, ten minutes before the end of this hour and a half movie. The filmmakers do at least seem like they were really trying to make this a good movie, but it fails on almost every level. Werewolf: The Beast Among Us gets 2 stars out of 6.

So, thank you for reading and letting me get to 100 reviews. Here’s to 100 more!

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