A fresh take on the Werewolf theme
by Nav Qateel
These past few years we’ve had nothing but shiny, YA friendly vampires, thanks to the likes of Twilight, but there have also been a few decent films, like Let Me In and Byzantium. Then there have been the limitless number of films about zombies, with Brad Pitt doing the over-budgeted World War Z, in an attempt to have the zombie genre taken seriously. Warm Bodies tried to do for zombies what Twilight did for vampires, by making them all cuddly and nice. However, by now the public must be sick to death of zombie films, because I know I am.
What a pleasant surprise it was to see a film about Werewolves, which is a sub-genre of horror that’s been pretty much neglected these past few years. Apart from the classic Ginger Snaps made in 2000, starring Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle, the only other movie of note was the Oscar-winning The Wolfman, released in 2009. Now we have Wer, a Werewolf film by William Brent Bell, whose last effort was the low-budget The Devil Inside, a lackluster affair that cost a mere $1 million and grossed over $50 million. Wer, on the other hand, is an excellent film which actually brings something new to the table, giving us loads of realistic effects and creating an authentic-looking beast.
Wer is set in France, and we begin with an American family camping near woods at night, and while filming with the obligatory hand-held camera, the family are brutally attacked by something unknown, but the camera fails to catch anything worthwhile. The husband and small child are slaughtered but the mother survives, and gives a statement to police telling them it was like a man with big hands that attacked them. It just so happens that an extremely tall and hairy man, Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O’Connor), lives near where the attack took place, and because he closely fits the description is immediately arrested for the gruesome murders.
Talan refuses to speak to anyone until his newly appointed American lawyer, Kate Moore (A.J. Cook), turns up at the police station. Talan has a strange body and mouth guard to protect the police from his bite, but Kate insists the police remove his cuffs and the gag. The cop in charge, Detective Pistor (played by Sebastian Roché, who bares an uncanny resemblance to Chef Gordon Ramsay) gives her only 5-minutes with the suspect. Talan talks very briefly and when the police rush in to put him back in his restraints, Kate’s co-worker, Gavin Flemyng (Simon Quarterman) is scratched on the arm by Talan. Eventually Talan is on the loose with predictable results.
Talan was played by first-time actor, Brian Scott O’Connor, who put on a good performance. His transformation was minimal as he already had a lot of the characteristics we expect Werewolves to have. This made it more realistic as he didn’t need to turn into a large dog, but only grew large fangs and gained superhuman strength. He was able to toss his victims around like ragdolls, which was very effective looking. A.J. Cook handled her character well with a convincing performance as Talan’s lawyer. Vik Sahay also managed his role well, however, Simon Quarterman gave a standout performance as he began to change into a Werewolf, and really committed himself to his confused character Gavin, who didn’t want to hurt Kate, as he still had feelings for the lawyer.
The music helped elevate the material, and the special effects and makeup were first-rate. Especially the makeup used to create the victims of the werewolf attacks, as these effects were very realistic, demonstrating a high level of skill. Between that and the way Talan killed people really made Wer one of the most exciting films of the genre I’ve seen in years. The only part of Wer where I felt let down was the lack of character development. I never really connected with any of them, which was a pity, because if they were fleshed out more and given greater depth, I feel this film had the potential to become a future classic. As it is, though, it’s still a gem of a horror that I strongly recommend. I doubt we’ll see a Werewolf film of this calibre for some time to come.