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By Bobby LePire | June 15, 2021

Michele Martin wrote, directed, produced, and stars in Howl, a modern spin on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood. Dulcina (Michele Martin) is an in-patient at a mental health facility. Her therapist believes the young lady is suicidal, though she’s adamant that the inflicted wounds came while sleepwalking and does not recall how they occurred. Due to Dulcina’s progress, she is allowed to leave the facility and stay at her grandmother’s house for the winter while the family member is away.

At the house, Dulcina is surprised by Ulf (Scott Hamm) entering the abode. Grandma forgot to tell either one that the other would be checking in. But, the two quickly forge a very close bond. As the days progress and Dulcina’s memories of childhood trauma come flooding back, a great evil reenters her life… Dulcina’s father, Levi (Kenny Johnson). Can she find the strength to fight back and fully embrace her true self? Or do blood ties and a fear of the past keep Dulcina in peril?

“…Dulcina’s memories of childhood trauma come flooding back, a great evil reenters her life…”

From the jump, it is apparent that Howl is a very low-budget passion project for the multi-hyphenate filmmaker. The limited funds are most evident in the special effects department and the supporting cast. The therapist Dulcina speaks to in the beginning is very stilted and wooden, starting the proceedings off on the wrong foot. Without giving too much away, there is a character prominently shown in the flashbacks, and the actor playing her is over-the-top, as if she’s a villain from a cartoon. It does work.

In terms of the effects, in order to convey the wintertime, most outdoor sequences are overlaid with snow falling. It is noticeable and distracting, as it’s obvious that the actors are never cold and that the ground is not ever covered in the powdery white goodness the season brings. Why Martin felt compelled to go this route is confusing, as just throwing the cast into some coats and have them discuss how cold it is is really all that is needed.

Howl (2021)

Directed and Written: Michele Martin

Starring: Michele Martin, Scott Hamm, Kenny Johnson, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Howl Image

"…harkens back to the production's fairy tale roots..."

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