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Review: ‘Werewolves Within’ is a Golden-Hearted Monster Mystery Horror-Comedy

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With a background in comedy, Josh Ruben is now taking the genre journey, and he’s absolutely crushing it so far. His first feature was the one-location storytelling extravaganza Scare Me (now on Shudder), but with Werewolves Within, Ruben has proved that he ain’t no one-trick pony. Werewolves Within is an utterly charming murder-slash-monster mystery; it’s a crocheted canvas of quirky horror, and a whimsical whodunit with a warm heart.

Written by humorist Mishna Wolff and based on the Ubisoft multiplayer VR game of the same name, Werewolves Within follows a park ranger, Finn Wheeler (the perpetually delightful Sam Richardson, Veep), as he arrives at his new post in the small rural town of Beaverfield. There, he meets postal worker Cecily Moore (Milana Vayntrub, This Is Us) and the rest of the townsfolk, who all have mixed opinions about a pipeline that’s proposed for development, raising the tension between neighbors. Soon, the town suffers a mysterious attack; a blizzard hits, a body count begins, and suspicions are cast all around.

Werewolves Within takes the VR game’s premise of trying to suss out the village werewolf and tosses in some solid characters (powered by an impeccable ensemble cast) and an updated locale. It’s really the cast that shines in this film, and every performance is hitting heavyweight. The cast includes Sarah Burns (American Vandal), George Basil (Crashing), Michael Chernus (Orange is the New Black), Harvey Guillén (FX’s What We Do in the Shadows), Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock), Michaela Watkins (Casual), and Glenn Fleshler (Barry), each fully embodying their colorful character. 

As a team, they all have the chance to play with expressive line delivery and micro-reactions to each other’s dialogue. For every line delivered, you can watch anyone in the background; they’re all actively listening and reciprocating in character. Even the throwaway lines of dialogue add extra layers of context to each character, giving a bit more insight into their personality and personal history. 

The supporting characters are all a recognizable “type”; clear-cut caricatures that reflect modern American stereotypes. As a Canadian, I found it added an extra layer to that external lens; we often get a specific tailored view of these types of personalities, so to see them taken to such extremes for the sake of comedy, it worked pretty dang well. 

But above the stereotypes, the character of Finn adds a warm, beating heart to the film. He’s a hero for goodwill and humanity, with a sense of neighborly morality we should all aspire to. His unifying speeches are a rally against cynicism, a call to arms for the good in us all, to band together to treat each other better. To be kind, thoughtful, mindful people who recognize that despite all our differences, we’re all in this together. Richardson is absolutely perfect in the role — his earnest, honest delivery just seems so sincere. Watching the film, as a self-admitted cynic and occasional social hermit, my heart grew three sizes that day. 

While Finn’s heartwarming monologues give emotional heft to the film, the script is peppered with quick wit dialogue that pings back-and-forth like a tennis match. Cecily, in particular, is a strong player here, and greatly enforced by Vayntrub’s performance — she’s just so gosh darn likable with a “cool girl” quirk that would make Amy Dunne jealous. 

Throughout the film, everyone’s line delivery is perfection, though some lines perhaps sound like they may have been added in post-production to fill out a scene. I’m not sure if this is indeed the case, but either way, the lines all work and the scenes still click. There’s just something about the comedy of the film that spoke to me on a deep level — every inflection was the right note, the right time, the right pace. It all works together thanks to the seasoned performers and Ruben’s experience in the comedy realm.

It’s a clever, funny film that wraps up the third act in a really satisfying way, but that’s not all. The technical elements deliver: the lighting and cinematography are excellent, the music is perfectly chosen, the editing is crisp, and it has a quick pace that flows forward. I was nothing but impressed with the whole package.

Werewolves Within

Aside from being one of  — if not the — best video game horror movie adaptations, Werewolves Within is like a charming, homespun mix of Clue and The Thing. It’s like Fargo meets Arachnophobia. It’s like Mister Rogers with guns. Because at the end of it all — comedy and horror and technicals aside — Werewolves Within teaches us a lesson. To be helpful. To be kind. To be a good neighbor. To not let the monsters win.

So if you’re at all interested in the film, I encourage you to check it out. If you like it, share it with someone. It’s the neighborly thing to do. 

You can watch it yourself during its limited theatrical release, or catch it on Digital and VOD starting July 5.

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The latest Trailer for ‘Smile’ is Filled With Nightmarish Dread

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The latest trailer for Smile is one that really digs its way under your skin. We had the pleasure of seeing it an early Fantastic Fest screening and the terror in that film is palpable and incredibly intense. It never lets up for a second.

The synopsis for Smile is as follows:

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, Dr. Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain. As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life, Rose must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.

The film stars Sosie Bacon, Jessie T. Usher, Kyle Gallner, Robin Weigert, Caitlin Stasey with Kal Penn and Rob Morgan.

Smile is in theaters on September 30 with some early showings popping up on September 27. Check local showtimes and don’t miss this one.

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‘Solar Opposites: Halloween Special’ Trailer Takes the Series into the Spooky Season

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Solar Opposites has dropped a trailer for its Halloween Special and it looks like a blast. The Justin Roiland series is a nice change up from the sci-fi antics of Rick and Morty, but still has a lot of the same voices and debauchery. The Halloween episode takes the extraterrestrial family down a path of the macabre and even takes them into hell itself.

The synopsis for Solar Opposites season 3 goes like this:

Co-created by Justin Roiland (“Rick & Morty”) and Mike McMahan (“Rick & Morty”, “Star Trek: Lower Decks”), “Solar Opposites” centers around a team of four aliens who are evenly split on whether Earth is awful or awesome. Korvo (Justin Roiland) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) only see the pollution, crass consumerism, and human frailty while Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Jesse (Mary Mack) love TV, junk food and fun stuff. In season three, this alien team strives to be less of a team and more of a family team.

Solar Opposites: Halloween Special arrives on Hulu beginning October 3.

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First Trailer For ‘The Last of Us’ is All About Brutal Survival

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The first trailer for The Last of Us has finally arrived and it doesn’t let you down in the least. The hit video game series of the same name has given us some truly brutal survival in a savage post-apocolyptic world.

The fact that Chernobyl creator, Craig Mazin is in charge of bringing this brutal world to life is already a sign that we are in the best hands possible. It’s also great to see that the series is taking what existed in the game and just recreating that world and its many beautifully cinematic scenes. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it. I wish more filmmakers would do the same.

The synopsis for The Last of Us goes like this:

Set in the post-apocalyptic United States, the game tells the story of survivors Joel and Ellie as they work together to survive their westward journey across what remains of the country to find a possible cure for the modern fungal plague that has nearly decimated the entire human race.

The Last of Us will arrive on HBO Max beginning in 2023.

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