TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! Forgive me for being utterly oblivious to the fact that Werewolves Within is based on a video game when I sat down to watch the film. To be fair, I usually think that movies based on games are horrible, so it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know this fact. Sorry, I am not a huge gamer in general, so I usually hold a lot more prejudice over them than a regular narrative feature. Is this fair? No, but whoever told you that writers don’t have biases… well, never mind. This is all leading to me being wrong in this prejudice. It is entirely possible to make a great movie based on a video game, which is just what director Josh Ruben and writer Mishna Wolff have done.
Something else remarkable about the movie doesn’t even have anything to do with the production itself: Wolff received the first Ubisoft Women’s Film and Television Fellowship. This essentially allows the recipient to have (pretty close to) carte blanche with Ubisoft’s intellectual property. Wolff picked their AR game for adaptation. The fact that a company is self-aware enough to make an effort to include women is amazing, considering how male-centric the entire industry has been since its inception.
Enough about that. Let’s talk about Werewolves Within. One of the funniest character actors out there right now, Sam Richardson, stars as Finn, a National Parks ranger. He has been reassigned to the small northern town of Beaverfield and discovers that the city is divided amongst itself over a huge financial dispute. A land baron proposes a pipeline, and most of the citizens want the money that would come from the pipeline going through their properties.
“…townspeople gather at the inn, afraid of who or what could be out there…”
But Jeanine (Catherine Curtin), the proprietor of Beaverfield’s only hotel, disapproves of the pipeline. Neither does the wealthy hipster couple who recently moved to town (played to hilarious perfection by Harvey Guillén and Cheyenne Jackson) or the mailperson who is also a recent arrival, Cecily (Milana Vayntrub). A snowstorm shows up when tensions are at their highest, and someone has gone through town, damaging all the sources of electricity. The townspeople gather at the inn, afraid of who or what could be out there to get them but still angry about the pipeline, seemingly above all else. That is until someone’s dog gets killed and accusations start flying.
The ensemble cast of Werewolves Within is what makes it. Some great character actors are in the mix: Michaela Watkins, Guillén, Glenn Fleshler, and more. Other than Richardson, Milana Vayntrub has the most screen time, and she gives an incredibly compelling and hilarious performance. This is the first time I’ve seen her in anything, but I will be on the lookout for her in the future. Finally, I can’t fail to mention that I love Cheyenne Jackson, as I’m always glad to see him on screen.
Wolff wrote a hilarious, timely, and sometimes scary script based on a video game, and I like it a lot! She and director Josh Ruben broke down my steely resolve against the video game adaptation and have now made me more open-minded in the process. The movie itself is very entertaining, and I think that anyone who likes other films with Sam Richardson will like this one. Also, for those of you who enjoy and play video games, which I realize is most people, this movie is a great present for you. It’s a horror-comedy that delivers the goods throughout its whole run time. Werewolves Within doesn’t reinvent the wheel here but instead fits very comfortably into the grooves of the genres it plays with, and that can be just as good, especially in this case.
Werewolves Within screened at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
"…incredibly compelling and hilarious..."