The world of video-game to film adaptations is an unglamorous one if nothing else. The likes of Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat still have a fan-base now, but that is perhaps because of how spectacularly bad they are that they then become enjoyable. Things have changed little since the 90’s, but films like Silent Hill, Tomb Raider and the reboot of Mortal Kombat have helped to reset the sub-genre onto a more acceptable path. So, here we have Werewolves Within, a film based on a video-game where the players are being attacked by a werewolf in a medieval town and it is their role to guess who the werewolf is, before they are all killed off. Despite how ridiculous that all sounds, it comes as a genuine treat that it all works and may be one of the best horror-comedies of the year.
Changing things up from the video-game, director Josh Ruben has changed the location of the film to a snowy American town where the locals are split over a new pipeline coming into Beaverfield and disrupting its idyllic beauty. The move straight away feels beneficial, as our cast feel bedded in and it automatically feels lived in rather than forced. Among the residents are your regular white-trash couple, a gay partnering who made their millions in technology, a doctor staying over and a host of others that fit neatly into the generic American casting category. And yet, there is fun and charm in these characters as they move from one inexplicable moment to the next – and while they break little new ground, they at least remain fun while the audience is in their company. The film really wins with Sam Richardson and Milana Vayntrub as the new Forest Ranger and the towns only mail carrier. The chemistry between the two characters really leads the way throughout the films one hour and 37 minutes. The will they, won’t they get together aspect doesn’t feel forced and instead leaves the audience rooting for the pair.
The choice of music and the way in which the film is edited hints at a deep admiration for the films of Edgar Wright, and in particular Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The energy and over-the-top action have a real affection, and while Werewolves Within is rarely ever scary – it does have enough moments to be both funny and gory without either one overshadowing the other. It could be argued that at times too much is going on, and some scenes can be lost as the film endeavours to have the whole cast on screen. It can also be said that while it is fun, and funny, you may struggle to find much of the humour memorable. But, when it starts ticking, and the opening set-up is out of the way, you cannot deny that Werewolves Within is a hell of a good time and one that you will want to return to.
Werewolves Within is available on Digital Platforms and DVD from 19 July.