Directed By: Paul Hyett, Written By: Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler, Starring: Ed Speleers, olly Weston, Shauna MacDonald & Elliot Cowan.
Come a full moon, I suppose we’ve all gone a little crazy. It’s pure coincidence that we’ve had a bad day at work and wanted to rip our bosses face off whenever there’s a full moon. I have to say from personal experience I haven’t woken up hairier than I am. I haven’t wanted to run around my local town on all fours or had the sudden urge to eat anybody. However, there is the notion that a full moon can have catastrophic effects on anyone that has had the misfortune of being bitten or scratched by someone who suffers from Lycanthropy.
That brings me nicely onto Howl, a 2015 British, Indie Horror film directed by Paul Hyett. The second time he had taken the director’s chair after prominently working in Special Effects and make-up on renowned horror films, The Descent and Dog Soldiers, just to name a few. These are already big shoes to fill; Does he manage to pull it off?
Howl starts off by introducing us to the lead character of Joe, played by Ed Speleers. Poor guy is stuck in a dead-end job, the promotion he wanted has instead gone to a right muppet, and the girl he really likes won’t give him a second look. His night, however, is fixing to get worse as he’s stuck with picking up an extra shift that’s literally going to be a hair-raising night on the rails.
The film sets the scene for where all the action takes place (inside of a train - who would have guessed?) A welcome departure, (no pun intended) from the claustrophobic setting of the train is when the action moves outside to the setting of the forest. This haunting location where the train breaks down turns out to be the hunting ground for this pack of hungry Werewolves.
I feel I must mention that while Sean Pertwee appears on the main cast list; he does only have a couple of minutes of screen time. Whether or not the budget at £1,000,000 could only afford this amount of his time or it’s a way of helping promote an independent feature, it’s a sensible decision as it works. The film does have a good cast, and they do well to present their characters in an everyday perspective, even if most are merely cannon fodder. From Shauna MacDonald, Holly Weston, Elliot Cowan and even Duncan Preston from Emmerdale. Don’t let that put you off, SPOILER ALERT he gets eaten by his wife.
Now the real question with any Werewolf movie is how do the Werewolves actually look on screen? In Howl’s instance, they look pretty damn good. Paul Hyett has made the correct decision in using actors in body suits to convey the main antagonists and that always works better than CGI. His previous background work is very apparent and extremely welcome for anyone who understands the finer points of special effects make-up.
There will obviously be comparisons with this type of genre movie to An American Werewolf In London and The Howling. Both seminal classics! The Werewolves themselves here are a kind of hybrid between wolf and man. Now you may say to yourself, of course they are, is that not what a Werewolf is? These are obviously Werewolves but they retain a portion of their human element so they still look visibly human but horribly disfigured in wolf form. One even still has his wedding ring on. A very interesting way to convey the Werewolf character, but when we are privy to the very short back story, you can understand who these wolves used to be. Ordinary people, befallen a terrible curse or maybe an entire family? Nobody really knows, it is almost an Urban Legend told by Duncan Preston’s character that fills in the blanks as to why these Werewolves even exist.
As the film progresses and we whittle our cast down to the remaining few that make a desperate stand against our hairy foes, it gives us some great moments. I especially liked what happened to Shauna MacDonald’s character. When she’s separated from the train and ends up alone in the forest, the shot of the Werewolf behind her is cool. The shadowy image and those eyes shining in the dark is a very cool shot. It seemingly adds to the terrifying situation she has now found herself in.
I’m not one for spoiling the ending of a movie, and as with my previous review, I shall just say that there is one survivor. The ending is actually good, and kind of leaves the door open. To be fair, the movie never details past events in any great length and that’s kind of how it ends.
I found Howl to be a very entertaining movie. It is well shot and acted for an independent film. Importantly, the creature effects are very good. It has a definite place within the Werewolf genre and just goes to show that with the right care and attention, a small but effective budget, good actors and a general passion for the type of film being made that anything is possible.
Do yourself a favour and sink your teeth into Howl.
Fancy adding owl to your collection? Find it on Blu-Ray here:
UK readers can find it here:
Edited By: Lee Richmond.