Saturday, July 2, 2016

"Howl" (2015) d/Paul Hyett

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Tonight's review is a quaint little British number from the bloke who gave you the make up effects in such recent horror fare as The Descent (2005) and The Woman in Black (2012). It hasn't got any snakes and there are no planes, hell, Samuel L. is nowhere to found, while we're at it. Werewolves on a train, on the other hand,  it does have, in droves. It's also got the son of the third incarnation of Doctor Who, Sean Pertwee, who's no stranger to lycanthropes himself, having gone head to head with the hairy howlers in Neal Marshall's Dog Soldiers (2002), in a Neeson-esque blink-and-you'll-miss-him turn. Before we draw any conclusions, let's familiarize ourselves with the story, which goes like this...

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"I'm the recurring 'oblivious fat guy in the loo' gag."
Joe (Ed Speelers) is a luckless cunt having a pretty shit day, by any accounts, having been passed over for a promotion and browbeaten into taking an extra shift as a guard by his new superior at British Rail, and all in front of a female co-worker he's been unsuccessfully trying to make some time with. On his latest late night ride, there's all sorts of characters to make his trip more unpleasant: a kindly, elderly couple, a ruthless and cocky alpha male prick (Elliott Cowan), stereotypical Paki nerd (Amit Shah), an oblivious young airhead chick, a rotund footie yob with an overactive digestive system, you get the picture. Even a job so effortless as collecting fare tickets seems like breaking big rocks into little ones in a Texas quarry under the noon day sun. Then, the train mysteriously stops. The conductor (Sean Pertwee) steps out into the mist-enshrouded darkness to locate the source, and gets ate all up (great having you on the show, Sean) by something snarling from the surrounding woods. This is a signal that Joe's evening is about to get progressively worse.

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" Though I hold them in very high esteem, I do NOT worship cows!"
The passengers soon find themselves under waves of intensifying attack by this stealthy killer, and Joe is suddenly forced to take charge to preserve these travelers' lives, though still visibly under the thumb of the swarthy posh prick that's out for himself, even (especially) in this time of great, harrowing danger. And his would be bird, also on shift,  is still looking. Even though the train car has been fortified and barricaded against the aforementioned attacks and a few gruesome deaths, the beast manages to break in and catch a hearty beating at the hands of the Hindu, who suddenly grows a Herculean set of balls, and kills it. Upon closer inspection, the (somewhat) lifeless corpse reveals itself to be some type of homicidal hybrid between man and wolf. It's a bloody good thing there aren't any more of these chappies out there in the for-...oh yeah, there are. About three of them, all with the same murderous blood lust. Can anyone escape their claws und fangs? Will Joe hold up under pressure, and get the girl? Will the footie yob ever get off the toilet? All of these questions and more will be answered once you've secured a copy of tonight's review, for yourselves, which I suggest you do.

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"We were told there would be sheep entrails hors d'oeuvres."
Ed Speelers, who you may recall from Eragorn (2006) and/or A Lonely Place To Die (2011), is an effective lead, while Elliot Cowan, who you've seen in things like DaVinci's Demons (2013-5) and The Frankenstein Chronicles (2015), is a right bastard in an antagonistic role. Shauna Macdonald, on the other hand, you'll recall from The Descent (2005) and The Descent: Part 2 (2009). Though there's nothing here you'd mistake for an original concept or an unseen twist, Howl manages to handle its genre cliche's with creative innovation, providing a less-trodden path to campy thrills for jaded werewolf enthusiasts, and thus, a highly enjoyable ride for any horror hounds that happen to be sniffing around for some new material to watch. It certainly has more going for it than your average ten bean genre time-killer off the shelf at Walmart, to be sure. On the scale, I've got to lay three big ones down, with this one in mind, and send it off with my recommendation, as well.

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"First he liked all my FB posts, now he's following me home at night..."
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1 comment:

CowboyX said...

This was alright. I don't know what I was looking at effects-wise, but I liked that they retained some of their human characteristics so you could tell who was who. Hubby protecting his infected wife...always dumb in any incarnation. The end too cut itself short probably in a lame attempt at setting up a sequel. A train full of werewolves pulling into a crowded station would've been much better.

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