By: Jolie Featherstone
A good ol’ monster movie meets dimy-lit-wood-panelled whodunnit, Josh Ruben’s Werewolves Within offers a modern take on the creature feature that is equal parts quirky and charming.
When good-natured ranger Finn Wheeler (the brilliantly cast Sam Richardson) arrives in Beaverfield, he finds a small town in disarray. Citizens are divided by the prospect of a new pipeline being built in town. Neighbours are at each other’s throats. The chipper, young, mail carrier, Cecily, (Milana Vayntrub), takes Wheeler under her wing and introduces him to the townsfolk. When Beaverfield is rocked by a series of violent incidents, everyone converges at the inn. A visiting scientist finds that the culprit may be not entirely human – and possibly nocturnal. Wheeler is thrust into the role of the de facto leader as the group must protect each other from the ferocious figure who stalks the town – and anyone could be a suspect.
Every moment of Werewolves Within radiates with the energy of a cast absolutely relishing the opportunity to truly play. There is a panto-theatrical element to the ensemble cast which makes for a lot of fun moments. As the energy of the townsfolk expands and contracts with tension, trust, and fear, one gets the sense that Ruben and writer Mishna Wolff (aptly named!) encouraged the actors to indulge in the scenes.
Sam Richardson (Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson) is utterly charismatic as wholesome “boy scout” ranger Finn Wheeler. Every hesitation before jumping into a conversation or stumbling over words smacks of relatability. I hope that this film leads to many more lead roles for Richardson. A seasoned comedy actor, Richardson’s performance shows his versatility. The ensemble cast all shine throughout the film. It’s the kind of movie I would imagine Tim Curry – circa Clue (1985) or The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – absolutely slaying in. I detect influences such as Mel Brooks, Edgar Wright, Rian Johnson.
In the vein of recent thriller-comedy hits like Ready or Not and Knives Out, Werewolves Within would make for great communal theatre viewing. I would have loved to have enjoyed this film with a crowd, particularly one that appreciates a good genre movie. It has the wholehearted authenticity and bold sensibility to make for an excellent movie night full of jumps and laughs.
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Jolie Featherstone: @TOFilmFiles