On the eve of his high school graduation, Will Kidman finally looks up from his books to catch the eye of the girl he’s longed for the last four years – the mysterious Eliana Wynter. He’s always been the shy kid, flying under the radar, but when he discovers a dark secret from his past – that he is heir to a powerful line of werewolves – he finds he has a choice to make between succumbing to his primal nature, or turning against his own, and maintaining his humanity. In order to fight the destiny of his legacy, and save Eliana – as well as himself – he must battle not only his growing blood lust but an army of fearsome beasts bent on killing him, Eliana…and then, us all.
The Black Saint remembers the year 1981 fondly. I had a pretty good gig, good friends & there were some awesome films released that year. Among them Joe Dante’s “The Howling” was one of the very special ones. His tale of Werewolves trying to suppress their inner beast on a commune was scary, exciting, sexy & had some very impressive special effects. It also had the honor of hitting the screen before John Landis’ “American Werewolf In London” as well. There are devotees of both films, I love them both but I prefer “The Howling” to “AWIL” because of it’s grittiness. It’s not a glossy movie, like “AWIL” was. It’s a low budget, grimy flick that had everything a movie of this type should have.
Unfortunately, it was so successful it spawned a slew of sequels. “AWIL” only had the one (“American Werewolf In Paris”, which sucked but “Howling” kept coming back. Over & over again without coming anywhere near the quality of the first film. We got “Howling 2: Your Sister Is A Werewolf”, “Howling 3: The Marsupials” & “Howlings” 4, 5, 6 & 7. All pretty much awful, (Although I have a soft spot in my heart for “Howling 3”). Now some 20 (!) years later director/screenwriter Joe Nimziki is attempting to reboot the franchise. He should never have attempted this exercise in futility at all.
“The Howling: Reborn” (Or from now on “H8”) is a sad excuse for a horror film. It tells the tale of an about to graduate from High school student named Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) who on the cusp of his 18th birthday seems to be acquiring the ability to change into a Werewolf. Apparently everybody in the film knows this but him, which was something of a problem for me thematically. The director also seems to take pains to make Will look a lot like Daniel Radcliff as well. Why? I suppose he was trying to get the “Harry Potter” demographic to watch this movie.
He also takes great pains to make this film as “Twilight-y” as he possibly can without getting sued. Even the opening credits are very familiar in that sense, which to me signals a script that doesn’t know what it wants to be despite it’s title. You called it “The Howling: Reborn” you f*cking peon. Let’s see some Werewolves or something. But no, what we get is an extended episode of “DeGrassi” that is filled with emo music & some awful narration to just make it extra bad. Example: “You know what we do? We let moments pass. Our lives pass day after day and before we know it, without even realizing it the best versions of ourselves become a distant memory.” We get tons of these philosophical bon mots in this movie. All done with some really bad music playing in the background. They serve no purpose other than to remind us that we still haven’t seen a f*cking werewolf yet.
As a matter of fact it’s not until the 66th minute of the film that we get a glimpse of our first werewolf. Sixty six freaking minutes before we see a werewolf in a movie that’s ostensibly about werewolves. This in & of itself is unacceptable & literally unwatchable. The film tries to spice things up with a subplot about Will’s mom who is trying to reclaim him as one of her pack & Will (Sort of) has a girlfriend, Eliana (Lindsey Shaw) who seems to be good & bad at the same time. It’s impossible to get a hold of who her character really is. His best friend, Sachin (Jesse Rath) sort of plays the “Evil Ed” role in the film but there is a major plot hole involving the two of them that the editor really flubbed up good.
The film just meanders as everybody walks around in slow motion (At least the bad guys do). You can tell who they are immediately by the way they enter a room & glare at others. At certain points in the film I thought I was watching a David DeCoteau film since it’s filled with topless boys breathing heavily & glaring menacingly at whoever is in front of them. It’s a terribly boring film.
We don’t see a second glance of a werewolf until the 81st minute of the movie & if the werewolves were worth looking at then maybe I could look past it’s inherent stupidity but they’re not. They are similar looking to the Lycans of “Underworld” fame but just seem to have some slight patches of fur strategically placed on their bodies to hide their kibbles & bits, nothing more. To add insult to injury we only get fleeting glances at them as they always seem to be moving very quickly. Their faces are fairly stiff looking & the (Limited) CGI is laughable to look at. And once again there is something of a surprise near the end that makes no sense whatsoever involving who’s who.
In it’s favor, the film doesn’t look too bad & the performances are pretty good but the editing, makeup effects & CGI are near bottom of the barrel. There are a few clever lines that seem to be paying homage to the original film but you have to be paying attention to the film to hear them & you’ll more than likely fall asleep while you’re watching this mess. There are also scenes that harken back to other films from “The Howling” to “Night Of The Creeps”. None of these scenes help & all they serve is to remind us of how much better those film are.
It all just continues to what seems to be a hurried ending with the smallest H.S. graduation class I’ve ever seen & Lots of blurry scenes of werewolves running about helter skelter, trying to catch Will & Eliana. Which they never do. In fact they’re probably the stupidest werewolves I’ve ever seen. It all ends with a surprise that the world takes notice of in a ridiculous manner that makes werewolves seem to be ransacking the entire world. And once again, the script is just stupid & just has way too many plot holes to even care about. I certainly didn’t care about these people and I don’t think you will either. “H8” gets 1/2 a shroud from The Black Saint for some of it’s performances but that’s it. It’s not worth the price of a rental from a Redbox machine ($1.00). Avoid at all costs unless you’re a completist, and even if you are, walk past it.
“The Howling Reborn is now available on Bluray per Anchor Bay
The Howling: Reborn (2011)