Friday, October 14, 2022

Ominous October - Werewolf by Night (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Marvel Studios’ Special Presentation: Werewolf by Night (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Horror
Length: 52min
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Marvel Studios, Disney+
Director: Michael Giacchino
Writers: Heather Quinn, Peter Cameron, Gerry Conway, Michael G. Ploog, Roy Thomas, Jean Thomas
Actors: Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Leondardo Nam, Eugenie Bondurant, Kirk R. Thatcher, Al Hamacher
IMDb Blurb: Follows a lycanthrope superhero who fights evil using the abilities given to him by a curse brought on by his bloodline.

Cat’s Point of View:
When Disney and Marvel announced that they were releasing a Halloween Special this year, I was rather over the moon. (No pun intended…this time.) As I was growing up, you could count on most shows to have a bonafide “Halloween Special” air separately from their usual storylines. These days you don’t see that as often. Sure, productions will give a nod to the season with set dressing; but more often than not, it feels like an afterthought rather than the drive of the narrative.
Werewolf by Night was exciting to me from the get-go because it felt like the equivalent of Marvel Studios and Disney+ teaming up to give us a full-size candy bar in our trick-or-treat bucket, just as the Halloween season is really beginning to ramp up.
While not a standard-length movie, the 52-minute runtime of this lycanthropic lark was just the right length to give a satisfying story for this stand-alone special. It was packed solid with mystery, action, shenanigans, and enough horror elements to delight genre fans.

While Werewolf by Night has a TV-14 rating, parents should be cautious about letting younger kids partake in this particular monster flick. If the production had been made entirely in color, rather than the throwback black and white, it would have received a TV-MA rating for the bloody action. We’re talking dismembering and worse, here.
I loved the monochromatic choice, though. While it might have made some of the violence more palatable for a wider range of audiences, it was all about the ambiance for me. I could just envision this as one of those classic monster movies of yesteryear. There are even quite a few Easter eggs sprinkled throughout that pay homage to those very cinematic forbears.
While I love comics, I have to admit that I wasn’t really that familiar with the Marvel characters introduced in Werewolf by Night. Admittedly, I am now significantly more curious about Ted, Elsa, and Jack… but I didn’t need to have knowledge of their respective comic runs to really appreciate this special. That’s really the beauty of these MCU productions – there are so many characters available for them to pick from that you never know what corner of the comic verse they’re going to mine for material.

That being said, it reinforces the point that the monumental volume of stories out there, it affords the perfect opportunity for Marvel to cherry-pick the moments to spotlight for specials like this. I would absolutely watch the hell out of as many stand-alone specials as they want to throw at us. Let me just say yes please, in advance, for regular seasonal-specific one-offs, please. I digress…
I’m hoping that we’ll see these characters again somewhere else in the MCU moving forward. Just because they decided specifically not to provide a post-credits scene to keep this story self-contained doesn’t mean they couldn’t waltz into another franchise later as supporting characters.
There really wasn’t anything I found negative about Werewolf by Night. The cast was amazing; led by Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle, Old, Maya and the Three), Laura Donnelly (Outlander, Tolkien, The Nevers), and Harriet Sansom Harris (Phantom Thread, Atlantic Crossing, Licorice Pizza). The production quality was on par with any other MCU offering, as well.

It was an impressive directorial debut for Michael Giacchino (Monster Challenge, Star Trek: Short Treks). Though, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. He’s been in the industry a while now, though as a musical composer. He got his start in the mid-90s working with video games before transitioning to cinema. Everyone has heard his work before in productions such as Doctor Strange (2016), Jurassic World (2015), and even TV shows such as Lost (2004-2010). Composing movie scores is a bit like directing in and of itself. Music is so intrinsically tied to the experience of film and people’s emotions. Creating something to evoke the right feeling at the appropriate story moment is a very similar process – at least in my opinion. I’m looking forward to seeing what his creative vision will bring us in the future for MCU projects or elsewhere.
Werewolf by Night was an awesome addition to our Ominous October and I would recommend it for classic horror fans looking for a fun, if brief, experience.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 93%
Metascore – 69%
Metacritic User Score – 6.9/10
IMDB Score – 7.4/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

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