Josh Ruben has taken his horror second vehicle (his first was Scare Me) into the realm of comedy horror. While not quite Shaun of the Dead, it does try very hard to scare and comically entertain. A sort of Mr Rogers Gets Hairy, or heaven forbid, An American Werewolf in Beaverfield, that perhaps tries a little too hard.
Super nice Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) moves to Beaverfield after a small indiscretion at his previous assignment as a Forest Ranger. He meets Cecily Moore (Milana Vayntrub) and a town full of oddly dysfunctional people. A pipeline is being pushed to be rammed through the countryside and the town is sharply divided about the merits of this endeavor.
Added into this mix of weirdness and discontent, is a werewolf. There are a number of murders and Finn must find and catch the killer. He is aided by Cecily and the two struggle to survive the long night as more bodies pile up outside in the snow.
Finn is a man who is so nice, he makes Mr Rogers seem pathological. He also has issues asserting himself and listens to self help tapes that are aimed at making him more “manly.”
Cecily is quirky, cute, and tuned into the town where she delivers mail. She also zeroes in on Finn as a possible partner. She also throws a pretty mean axe.
There are other characters: Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall) is the other outside, apart from Finn, and he is pushing for residents to okay the pipeline. Jeanine is the manager of the local hotel. Other characters include two oddball couples and an environmental scientist who is staying at the hotel.
The werewolf is not who you are supposed to think it is.
The acting by the two leads is spot on. Richardson and Vayntrub work well together and they do have great chemistry. Sadly, the rest of the town’s characters have been painted a bit two dimensional. As pointed out by another critic, when the group are put together, they all seem to be fighting for attention. These scenes try to rise above the cardboard cutout status of Beaverfield’s denizens, but, they become sloppy and reek of impromptu sessions gone awry.
The film looks good visually, although the snow, in some scenes, looks computer generated. There also seems to be an anti-gun message, highlighted by the group disposing of all their weapons. The end result is that the werewolf has to be dispatched sans bullets.
Werewolves Within is an adaptation of a Virtual Reality video game. It is not necessary to experience the game in order to enjoy the film. It is entertaining, funny, although not exceptionally so, and moves along at a good clip. It does seem to try that bit too hard to tickle the funny bone and as a result feels contrived in places.
This is an enjoyable movie, overall, and deserves to be seen, if for no other reason, than to see “Lily” in a different light. The woman can act and her performance alone is worth the price of admission.