Friday 7 October 2022

Werewolf By Night (Movie Review)

As we prepare for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to bring the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close next month, many are left wondering what direction the once-universally-beloved franchise would be taking going forward. We've had everything from new alien threats and multiverses introduced in the last couple of films, making it unclear what exactly Kevin Feige and crew are currently building towards. But just when we thought we'd seen all the MCU had to offer in the current phase, it hits us with what is probably its most puzzling addition.

In Werewolf By Night, a group of seasoned monster hunters gathers at the mysterious Bloodstone Manor for a chance to claim the Bloodstone, a magical artifact that would imbue its wielder with supernatural abilities. These include Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal), a man whose quiet demeanor is only betrayed by his impressive kill count, as well as a woman named Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), the heirloom's rightful inheritor. But as they begin the hunt that would determine who gets to keep the Bloodstone, it soon becomes clear that not all who are gathered there are who they claim to be.

Michael Giacchino takes the director's chair for Werewolf By Night. This is following his work as a composer on films such as Spider-Man: No Way Home and more recently Matt Reeves' The Batman. Presented in stunning black and white, his film is at once a love letter to the classic monster films from the first half of the 20th century. And while that in itself might be a turn-off for viewers with more modern sensibilities, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by dismissing it based on its looks.

In fact, one might argue that it is its throwback presentation that immediately helps to set it apart from everything else that came before it. The TV special (as it is being billed) has some of the most satisfying horror-infused thrills seen in the MCU since its inception, even managing to surpass the likes of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in certain aspects. It is also the most creatively audacious the MCU has been since those early episodes of WandaVision, employing every trick in the book to replicate the look and feel of classic monster films.

But aside from its gorgeous cinematography and impressive practical effects, it also manages to tell a surprisingly heartfelt story. To say more about this would be to risk spoiling its eventual outcome, but I can at least say that at the core of that story is one of the best bromances I've seen in the MCU. And so my main criticism would be that I wished we had gotten to spend more time with these characters, as the film barely clocks in at 52 minutes in length. On the flip side, this ensures that the movie never overstays its welcome, while leaving room for more stories to be explored in the future, should they choose to do so.

Werewolf By Night is the Marvel Cinematic Universe at its most daring. It takes viewers on a wild adventure that proves that the franchise has space for the occasional standalone endeavor. So while it might not serve to steer the MCU in one direction or the other, it still acts like a breath of fresh air as it shakes up a formula that many have begun to find stale. And even more than that, it captures the spirit of countless horror classics, which should undoubtedly go a long way in helping you get in the mood for the festivities this spooky season.


  1. I would guess the 52 minutes is why they're calling it a TV special and not a movie. I hadn't really heard of this one. I know from reading some old Carnage/Venom comics that J Jonah Jameson's son became a "Man-Wolf" but I suppose it might be hard for Marvel to use that character if he's tied into Sony's Spider-Man.

    1. A Man-Wolf movie/crossover would be cool. Glad to see both Sony and Disney showing a willingness to explore more of the supernatural side from the comic books.