Friday, June 18, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: Werewolves Within

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

Werewolves Within
Directed by Josh Ruben
Spotlight Narrative - Screening Information

The concept of a werewolf is one of a layered villain, someone who may not know the threat that they pose since they transform from man to beast at night, likely unable to control their actions and the destruction they might yield as a result. The fact that it’s not easy to identify who might be a werewolf or to prove that a suspect is in fact guilty of that dual identity can put townspeople on edge, rushing to vilify those who may not be liked and to stop them before they can wreak havoc. It’s a subject particularly well-suited to horror, but also effective in a more comedic parody setting.

Overeager park ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) transfers to a new post and meets mailwoman Cecily (Milana Vayntrub), who clues him in to the eccentric personalities in town. When a storm hits and a dog is found dead, the locals begin to turn on each other. Stuck inside an inn, everyone is a suspect, and emotions run high as each person feeds into their own preconceived notions about the others and jumps to conclusions that tend to be woefully incorrect.

This adaptation of a popular VR game makes for a great movie, immediately establishing itself as winning thanks to the humorous banter that builds between Finn and Cecily. Richardson and Vayntrub are both talents equally capable of cracking jokes and playing the straight man, and they’re surrounded by a truly terrific ensemble. Among the cast are Michaela Watkins, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Cheyenne Jackson, Harvey Guillén, Sarah Burns, and Glenn Fleshler, all of whom contribute tremendously to the wild insanity of this film.

In a film and television world that’s all too populated by werewolves and zombies, this film doesn’t reinvent the genre but does manage to breathe fresh life into it by keeping audiences engaged with a decently involving mystery and plenty of comedy along the way. In this struggle for survival, it’s fun to see that those who are likely most equipped to make it out alive are able to confront and acknowledge the absurdity of their situation and how focused others remain on ridiculous and important things in the face of certain grisly death. If most of the characters in a movie are going to die anyway, isn’t it more fun if they get to make fun of each other along the way? This entertaining ride certainly makes a strong case for yes.


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