Since April I have been getting hooked, in a good way, to crypto. It’s a fascinating world (for the good and bad), but my movie love has taken a hit in the past several months. Director Josh Ruben serves up the perfect elixer to slap me out of my cinematic slumber with Werewolves Within. Headlined by Sam Rarchardson (Veep) and Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us), the horror/mystery/comedy engaged this viewer to the bitter end!!
Finn (Sam Richardson) lands a new job as a forest ranger in the small and seemingly idyllic town of Beaverfield. There is a local inn owned by the amiable yet all too eager to please Jeanine (scene stealer Catherine Curtin). Postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) is a quick witted soul who probably grew up on Carole Lombard and Diane Keaton movies. The initial, getting to know you banter between Cecily and Finn is one for the books, and the actors’ innate chemistry gives Werewolves Within an unstoppable momentum.
A meet cute flick between Finn and Cecily, with a howling werewolf as the antagonist, would have been good enough for me, but director Josh Ruben and writer Mishna Wolff have other fish to fry. Another standout element lies in the talented ensemble who intentionally chew scenery in their respective roles. Whether it’s a rich city slicker couple looking for small town comforts (Cheyenne Jackson, Harvey Guillén) or an unpredictable woman (Michaela Watkins) saddled with a lecherous husband (Michael Chernus), the Werewolves Within denizens are downright memorable.
As a bigtime Billions fan, it was great to see Glenn Fleshler ditch the corporate suite and go full Jeremiah Johnson as town outsider/survivalist Emerson Flint. Watching Sarah Burns popping in and out of a scene at a moment’s notice (as the smartest person in the room), was also an added bonus. Each member of the cast gets their chance to shine, and wanting more scenes from every participant is a testament to Wolff’s deceptively layered screenplay.
Beaverfield’s future may be bleak after thanks to rich guy Sam Parker’s (Wayne Duvall) pipeline ambitions. While some people want to cash in on the deal, others want to protect Mother Nature at all costs. Complicating matters even further is the possible existence of a werewolf.
Ruben has cited Arachnophobia, Hot Fuzz and the films of the Coen Brothers as influences behind his latest feature, and Werewolves Within also swims in the same narrative waters of Knives Out. That said, Werewolves Within exists in a class of its own, as Ruben pulls off a pretty cool trick that isn’t a spoiler. Thus, please humor me at my rote analysis . . .
The Werewolves Within characters begin the narrative as over the top, one-dimendional characters. If the movie left these people in that very state, the movie would still be an engaging horror-comedy. Ruben holds higher ambitions for his film, and by tale’s climax you will see each of these individuals in a different light.
Themes of empathy and, at the very least, tolerance may often beat us into submission (or worse yet, boredom), but Werewolves Within’s dizzying pace of one-liners and action doesn’t give us time to breathe. If you love wall to wall entertainment, that’s a great thing.
On a deliciously superficial level Werewolves Within can be enjoyed for its inspired performances, twist filled plotting, and perfectly placed music (if you’re a Savage Garden person, this movie’s for you). If you see this film as a call for personal accountability, maybe you’ll discover the true monster behind Beaverfield’s ecosystem.
Werewolves Within hits theaters June 25th and is available to rent everywhere starting July 2nd. Let us know what you think of the feature!
I’ll be praising the living heck out of Werewolves Within on this week’s Find Your Film podcast. Until then, check out our latest episode as we review The Birthday Cake, Akilla’s Escape, and Gaia!
Check out the episode on Audio via most podcatchers and Apple Podcasts!
Support Deepest Dream and our podcasts (CinemAddicts, Find Your Film) by shopping on Amazon!