His first day on a new posting in remote Beaverfield in snowy Vermont, forest ranger Finn Wheeler has already met the colourful locals, “a bunch of freaks” as described by mailperson Cecily Moore, another recent arrival who has also taken up residence in the lodge run by Jeanine Sherman, but he was not expecting to deal with extreme wildlife emergencies on his second day on the job.
Eccentric home crafter and self-appointed welcome wagon Trisha Anderton’s small dog victim of a nocturnal abduction, Finn feels her statement is an overreaction – “It’s the damn devil that ate my baby!” – but his expectation of finding evidence of coyotes or bears falls flat as he and the townsfolk are instead cut off as the snow blows in and the power blows out, a landslide blocking the only road back to civilisation.
The backup power generators sabotaged and the partially eaten body of Jeanine’s missing-for-a-month-and-presumed-skipped-town husband discovered under the porch, highly strung Doctor Jane Ellis takes samples then promptly barricades herself in her room in terror, her tests on the fibres indicating that the killer was neither human nor animal but some strange hybrid.
Inspired by the game of the same name where players attempt to identify the threat hidden inside their community before falling victim to it, Werewolves Within is directed by Josh Ruben from a script by Mishna Wolfe, falling somewhere between The Beast Must Die with its famous “werewolf break” where audiences are invited to piece together the clues and House of the Long Shadows, a murder mystery with bite and an eagerly wagging tail.
Everyone a suspect and with motives piling as high as the drifts outside, The Tomorrow War‘s Sam Richardson is the outsider caught in the siege of a community populated with opinionated and self-reliant locals already divided over the issue of a new gas pipeline, habitually armed yet reticent to help hunt the lycanthrope, every character fighting for attention and raised by the quirky performances of the ensemble.
The circle of suspects narrowing as the bodycount mounts, Werewolves Within is as much a comedy as a horror but the lunar cycle of mayhem never bites quite as sharply as it might have done, an enjoyable evening’s entertainment that will perhaps not stand the repeat viewings of classics such as An American Werewolf in London or Dog Soldiers but remains furry head and shoulders above a dog’s dinner such as Howling II.