Judge Patrick Naugle now has fleas. Thanks, Universal.
The legendary beast is on the hunt!
In a 19th century village, a ravenous creature has come to wreck havoc on the locals. This beast is not just ANY monster, but a man-eating werewolf; one of the most vicious creatures ever to walk the earth. A group of bounty hunters (including Ed Quinn, Eureka) show up to rid the town of the beast with their unmatched skills. Young Daniel (Guy Wilson, Little Black Book), a physician's assistant, offers up his services to help track the werewolf, much to the chagrin of his worried mother (pop star Nia Peeples), and his boss, the local doctor (Stephen Rea, Feardotcom). As the hunters make their way around the forest, they discover not everyone is who they say they are…and everyone is potential meat for the Werewolf: The Beast Among Us.
I was one of apparently five people who enjoyed Universal's 2010 remake The Wolfman (starring Benicio Del Toro as the titular monster), directed with a sure hand by Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger). Although it didn't come close to the 1941 Lon Chaney original, the film had its rough and scratchy charms; eons better than clunkers like Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Unfortunately, The Wolfman was not the mega hit Universal was hoping for, even with an Oscar for Rick Baker's fantastic make-up effects. However, it apparently was successful enough for Universal green light a sequel…of sorts. Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is something of a follow up, but if Johnston's film was a classy update of the legend, this is its developmentally challenged third cousin sitting in the corner eating paste.
Director Louis Morneau's filmography reads like a who's who of shoddy low budget sequels to shoddy low budget films—The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting, Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead, Carnosaur 2 (because one Carnosaur is never enough!)—all of which went direct-to-DVD. His only theatrical release was the 1999 Lou Diamond Phillips' cheapie Bats. Uh-huh. You can see what we're working with here. Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is a run-of-the-mill thriller without an original bone in its body. Some production exec must've seen its potential as a cash cow, feeding off the rapid consumer tendencies of loyal genre fanatics.
Just looking at the cover art makes one hope for an action-packed adventure with plenty of werewolf attacks and exploding heads. Oh, there's action alright, but it's so poorly staged you can hardly recognize it as such; it's more like moderately choreographed movement. For gore hounds, there's a fair amount of grizzle: impalings, beheadings, a disemboweling, a chest ripping. The most compelling practical effect finds one of the hunters sporting a pair of silver fake teeth and turning the table on the werewolf. Unfortunately, the CGI feels rushed and chintzy, as if culled from test scenes for Van Helsing.
To make matters worse, there are no compelling characters and the performances border on amateurish. Guy Wilson as Daniel is overwrought, one time pop star Nia Peeples stands around looking sad, and the only A-lister—a very stoic and morose looking Stephen Rea—must have taken the role to pay off his summer home in the Ozarks.
I can't say I'm entirely disappointed with Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, because I knew going in it wasn't going to be great. I was simply hoping for some so-bad-it's-good entertainment. Sadly, Morneau and his writing partner Michael Tabb couldn't even manage that.
Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the transfer is crystal clear. Colors are vibrant and black levels (much of the film takes place at night) are solid and well-rendered. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is excellent and aggressively bombastic. There are a lot of moments where all of the speakers are fully engaged, especially during the werewolf attacks. Dialogue, music, and effects are all distinguishable and clearly heard.
Bonus features include a commentary by Morneau and producer Mike Elliot, four minutes of deleted scenes, three behind-the-scenes featurettes ("Making the Monster," "Transformation: Man to Beast," and "Monster Legacy"), some BD-Live content, a standard def DVD Copy, a digital copy, and an UltraViolet download.
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is a flat out boring and flaccid affair. Even at 93 minutes, the film feels long, careening viewers through its tale without pausing to offer any sort of character development. If I were Universal, I'd be ashamed to lend my name to a movie that sullies one of its finer franchises.
This thing needs to be neutered, then put out of its misery.
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