Directed by Paul Hyett.
Starring Ed Speleers, Holly Weston, Elliot Cowan, Amit Shah, Sam Gittins, Duncan Preston, Sean Pertwee and Rosie Day.
A train full of passengers must band together to fight off a pack of bloodthirsty wolf-like creatures.
Two new werewolf movies released in the same month? Must be close to Halloween. But while William Brent Bell’s Wer is an intelligent twist on the werewolf legend, Paul Hyett’s Howl goes for a more traditional approach. Not that there’s anything wrong with traditional because after seeing so many filmmakers try something new with the formula over the past few years it’s actually quite refreshing to have a new film that goes back to basics and doesn’t try to be anything other than a creepily good time.
There are two main positives that work in Howl’s favour, namely relatable (but not necessarily likeable) characters and an eerie atmosphere throughout that evokes the vintage horror classics without resorting to cliché or parody. And it manages to keep this up all the way through its 88-minute running time which, in a film that is essentially ‘Werewolves on a Train’, is quite an achievement. The isolated setting of train that has broken down is a fairly unique one and director Paul Hyett makes full use of misty moonlit exterior shots – albeit digitally enhanced ones – and Dutch angles to create a sense of impending danger, and when the creatures attack they’re not a disappointment and are genuinely quite terrifying.
Due to the setting and the lighting design there are some moments that aren’t so clear to make out, most notably the first major creature attack inside the train carriage which was too shaky and erratic to follow, making it lose some impact. But when Hyett’s camera is allowed to linger on the action happening on-screen the film does have the fun and excitement that is required for werewolf movies to work. In order to get to those action scenes we have to get introduced to the main characters and set the simplistic plot up, and despite the script being a bit dull and not as witty as it may have looked on paper the characters themselves are easy to identify and therefore follow without having to keep working out who is who.
Overall, Howl is good fun and made with a bit of heart that low-budget creature features aren’t always infused with. The acting isn’t award-winning quality but the casting of familiar British faces like Duncan Preston (Emmerdale), Sean Pertwee (he is in there but blink and you’ll miss him) and Shauna Macdonald (Filth/The Descent) who pitch their performances accordingly keeps things moving along. Which it needs to do as there are a few plot niggles here and there but what the hell – it’s a werewolf movie that achieves what it sets out to do and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Enjoy.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★