Werewolves Within is a recent horror-comedy somewhat based on a VR game with the same name. While I haven’t personally played the VR game, the premise is one that many people are aware of. If you’ve ever play Town of Salem, Mafia, or Werewolf, then you get the gist of it. Somebody is a werewolf, and the players have to sort out who it is while the werewolf tries to get the people to turn on each other.
Werewolves Within the movie starts with a cold opening, establishing that something is out there, then we cut to nearly 30 days later Finn Wheeler is moving into the extremely small town of Beaverfield. The town is filled with untrusting people, people having affairs, and is completely divided over the fact that an oil company wants to build a pipeline and some people in town are willing to sell to them while others are not. After meeting all the characters, Finn wakes up to one of the residents crying about her dead dog, and the town is without power, and they are blocked in from the snow. While he investigates the power outage, he also finds the body of the man from the cold opening who the town had presumed ran away.
So we have a bit of a closed circle trope for a whodunit mystery, just with the notion that there is a werewolf at the center of all of this. The movie plays out in a pretty familiar but entertaining fashion. It starts with the people in town trying to work out who it might be, another attack happens, they turn on each other
– at this point, the closed circle trope is messed with, the town is still cut off, but the group leaves the place where they had previously been isolating together and separate, which breaks it a bit –
and we are left to watch the hilarious and gory aftermath. Everybody in town is a reasonable suspect, and everybody in town has good reason for wanting the group to assume it is somebody else. Those wanting to sell for the pipeline, for instance, want to turn on the holdouts. Finn takes the role of the outsider who is trying to bring and keep everybody together but with great difficulty.
The movie isn’t doing anything new, but it does combine a lot of different familiar elements in fun ways. It has a lot of the markers of classic whodunits. The characters fit into their various tropes to a tee and are a bit larger than life, but in a way that doesn’t feel mocking as much as tongue in cheek. The setting of a cabin out in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm is something we are used to in the mystery genre. People might also find some familiarity in the way things unfold, coming together, getting scared, something happens, suspecting each other, etc. We have seen mysteries play out these ways before. It is well done, though, and the supernatural parts remain over us.
There is also a lot of interplay and quick humor. Much like movies like Clue, there are many back and forth moments; still, the movie never felt overwhelming. There is a lot of humor, and a lot of it is rapid, but there are decent moments to breathe.
The mystery element is pretty decent if not the most focused on. It does bill itself as a mystery movie just with werewolves and it… mostly holds to that? To be honest, uncovering clues and finding out who it is, is massively put on the backburner. There are only a few moments where I feel like “mystery movie” was really being pushed. However, this isn’t a bad thing; just if you are a huge fan of mysteries, know that humor, horror, and character/setting tropes from mysteries are more what you will be getting and less clue gathering and sorting it out.
The horror is decent and works well for this being a horror-comedy. The movie again aims to have more horror elements, such as gore, a few jump scares, some horror-related spectacle, etc., than true fear. But this should be expected. Very few horror-comedies manage to be legitimately fear-inducing horror movies. The horror is there more for fun and to add a little spice to the mystery we have.
The pacing of the movie is well done. While elements of the movie might feel a bit predictable, it is laid out really well and moves at a good speed. I never felt bored waiting for what I knew would be a pretty big climax, and once the movie does take off, it manages to pack a punch without being too overwhelming.
The message of the movie is pretty clear (if not a little too much) and one that we hear a lot, but one I think is worth repeating. Finn is desperately trying to remind everybody they are a community while the people that make up that community relentlessly show each other otherwise. The “who are the real monsters, and is there even one” blankets the entire movie. It’s well done and, as I said, a worthwhile message to put out there. However, the movie is also pretty brutal, so for all the message is kitschy, the horror doesn’t let it go too far.
All in all, I think this movie is delightfully funny. I laughed a whole lot and enjoyed the ride pretty much from start to finish. I have a bit of a take about the ending but will be holding off on that until more people get to experience this movie. I will fully recommend it to all genre fans but also fans of comedies and mysteries that can handle a bit of the gore and horror elements. I will warn again that the “mystery” part is really more about how the movie is presented than there is much mystery sorting. It is still completely worth it, though. If none of this appeals to you, then I might even still say consider it just because it’s such a fun experience. I won’t rate it as one of the best movies I’ve seen of all time, but I will rate it as one of the most entertaining with little to pick at.
What about you? Have you seen it? Did you enjoy? Let me know! Also be on the lookout for me perhaps talking about the ending as I said…