July 1, 2021

GENRE | Sam Richardson Scares the 'Werewolves Within' Us

"Maybe we're all werewolves!"
Milana Vayntrub Josh Ruben | Ubisoft's Werewolves Within
IFC Films / Ubisoft Film & Television
CollegeHumor director Josh Ruben helms the upbeat horror-comedy based on the Ubisoft multiplayer VR video game of the same name. Starring comedian Sam Richardson as an amiable small-town forest ranger, Werewolves Within mines a lot of knowing fun by toying with our collective awareness with various cinematic conventions including hallmarks from the slasher and monster movie subgenres.

Co-starring Milana Vayntrub as the nosey mail carrier Cecily who knows everyone's business and acts as a tour guide for Richardson's new in town Ranger Finn, the indie genre film recreates the whole "cabin in the woods" mood of slow burn dread through some cleverly humorous twists to its story beats. Set during a snowstorm and power outage in the otherwise friendly neighbourhood of Beaverfield, there's a clear Shaun of the Dead influence with the same kinetic editing tricks to heighten jokes through sharp comedic timing in the style of director Edgar Wright.

Scripted by humourist Mishna Wolff, there's a real sense of amusement and a playful awareness of horror films. How Ruben and Wolff quickly set up our townsfolk together through a mysterious (possibly supernatural) animal attack and series of violent events echoes audience expectations. These touches then allow the film to mine humour from little details and the growing idea of a werewolf attack among our characters.

How Werewolves Within carefully riffs on its mystery element by pitting the characters against each other for added suspicion feel casually sophisticated. It's an all-around impressive turn of its genre influences while making itself a fairly satisfying entry into the horror genre of scary creature features with plenty of comedic antics involved while teasing its werewolf premise.

Werewolves Within is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon

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