The werewolf may be the least over-used mythical monster in the horror pantheon. You’ve likely seen fewer werewolf movies than those with vampires or zombies but that doesn’t mean that this hairy cousin is any less revered. In fact, within the horror genre there are probably more stone-cold classics featuring the lycanthrope than any other horror beast. Universal Pictures’ Lon Chaney Jr. classic The Wolfman, The Howling, An American Werewolf In London and Dog Soldiers are near perfect examples of how to build a movie around a monster and make them great.
Paul Hyett’s Howl is a worthy addition to the list and while it may not rewrite the horror rule book, it does have enough fun, scares and gore to keep horror fans howling for more. Hyett’s film takes place onboard a late night commuter that breaks down on a deserted part of the track. Getting home late is bad enough – but being eaten by angry werewolves is even worse.
Ed Speleers makes a likeable character as Joe, an under-appreciated train guard who has just been passed over for promotion but who must rise to the challenge when his passengers come under attack from hungry hounds. He’s joined by an assorted bunch of character stereotypes (alpha male, slob, old couple, grumpy teen, geek, love interest et al) that run the full gambit of emotions in their attempt to stay alive.
Hyett has created a slick low-budget effort that works well within the confines of its genre. The cast deliver in a way that is much better than hoped for in a fright flick and the monster and gore effects deliver. The film sags in the moments that try to build character, especially when each personality is so broadly drawn. At times this gets close to derailing the tension, especially when Hyett attempts to create conflict within the group.
Howl fails to wrestle the Brit werewolf movie crown away from Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers but Paul Hyett’s film makes a valiant attempt (Sean Pertwee cameo included). It’s a fun monster movie that should satisfy horror fans when the full moon rises.