Werewolves Within Review – Tribeca Film Festival 2021

Ubisoft takes a chance in adapting one of their video game titles into a film with the horror-comedy Werewolves Within. The feature plays more like a whodunit with some horror elements that often feel like it took inspiration from the works of Jordan Peele as well as Agatha Christie with its tone. What you get out of all that is a fun and entertaining film that may perhaps be one of Hollywood’s better adaptations of a video game.

The film follows Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson), a timid and happy-go-lucky park ranger who arrives at his new post in the small town of Beaverfield. Making his way to the snowy village’s inn, Finn gets introduced to an assortment of strange characters during his first day on the job. The town’s colorful visitors include the new mailwoman (Milana Vayntrub), a gay yoga couple (Harvey Guillen and Cheyenne Jackson), an enthusiastic husband and wife (Michael Chernus and Michaela Watkins), a paranoid environmentalist (Rebecca Henderson), and a gasoline gun-wielder (Wayne Duvall). Things take a turn after a corpse is found at the local inn and the neighborhood dog ends up being eaten alive as Finn realizes something sinister is stalking the town. What transpires is a mystery to uncover who the werewolf is among this group of townsfolk.

What makes the movie work is the ensemble cast, each of them carrying on their own unique performance. Milana Vayntrub is perhaps the biggest standout as she brings on a compelling and hilarious performance. Even our bumbling hero played by Sam Richardson brings a lot to the table coming off his work on Detroiters as well as Veep. This is the first time we see him leading a comedic horror genre and it lends to show off his comedic talents very well. Michaela Watkins is among the veteran comedians who can pull off great roles and this film was no different. 

Much like the game, the film gives plenty of opportunities to throw a lot of clues and curveballs to figure out who among them is the werewolf terrorizing their town. The difference is that it carries a funny tone and in most parts, be entertaining. It does become a bit insane when we get to know some of these characters. Watkins’ character is just a weird dog-loving resident who loves to make unique gift shop items. Henderson’s Dr. Ellis comes off as an expert in wildlife, but her methods can come off as strange. The film does keep things interesting when uncovering the secrets of the town and its residents as the film moves forward. It is the fear and paranoia that can lend themselves to some hilarious moments with these characters. Once everyone starts suspecting one another, the real fun begins.

The movie does become a bit of a satire as it goes into some political commentary as well as social class, community, and sexuality. Writer Mishna Wolff and director Josh Ruben have crafted a witty script that takes the video game adaptation even further by putting a blend of comedy into the mix and be a bit thought-provoking by tackling real-life situations. The dialogue here can be quick and somewhat cheesy at times, but it does offer some fun atmosphere as the audience goes along in this crazy mystery filled with some scares and hilarity.

Werewolves Within doesn’t necessarily do anything new with the genre of a horror-comedy, but it does deliver some good laughs throughout the whole film. It delivers on both fronts and the humor comes off naturally. Not much goes on for scares, but just knowing that a monster is lurking behind the scenes just gives the film a better impact on the story. The film pokes fun at itself by pulling some tropes and cliches without being too spoiled for its own good. With a couple of incredible performances from its cast and its mix of genres, the film will certainly appease fans of horror and mystery or perhaps both while getting a good laugh on top of it.

Werewolves Within will be playing in select theaters on June 25th and become available on VOD July 2. 

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