The whodunnit murder mystery can often be playful and fun genre, inviting the audience to take part in the journey by giving clues and the access to the same information that most of the characters have. Based on the game of the same name, of which we were fans, which was in turn inspired by the Mafia party game, Werewolves Within is a movie in which everyone is trying to figure out who or what is attacking the town of Beaverfield.
Beaverfield is a tiny town where there seem to be a total of 15 residents. It’s so small, it’s probably less a town and more a hamlet. Quite a few of these townspeople fall into a diverse set of exaggerated stereotypes – a gay couple, a non-binary person, the money hungry businessman, the “macho” right wing guy who tries to get handsy with people, his shrill wife, and a few others. They are all already divided by controversial plans to build an oil pipeline through the natural woodland when Finn, the new Ranger and our lead protagonist, turns up. While you see a town that seems quite pleasant on the outside, you are clued in early on that not everything and everyone is as they seem.
The movie moves at a good clip, setting up the type of person Finn is to and establishing the roles each character plays in the town. You have the likes of Cecily the postal worker, Janine the innkeeper, and Flint the Trapper who lives on the edge of town. As more and more unexplainable things happen through the first third of the film, it pushes the character to gather together and take shelter in the inn. From here the relationships are explored a bit further and begin to fray.
A staple of video game film adaptations is having at least one scene that is directly lifted from its source material. For the Doom movie, it was a first person shooter sequence, but for Werewolves Within it has everyone sat around a table, trying to give their anecdotes and evidence to accuse the others of being werewolves. It is quite the chaotic scene with everyone trying to have the last word, and it does capture a bit of how the game itself plays out. You will likely be playing along trying to figure out what is going on, with quite few red herrings left to mislead the characters and the viewers.
Pitched as a comedy horror, Werewolves Within leans much more toward the comedy end of the scale, though a lot of the jokes did not seem to land. Some of the situational humour is good and there are some silly lines that get a chuckle, though these seem few and far between.
The cast do well with what have. Milana Vayntrub plays Cecily well with her acting skills giving the character a lot of depth. Her on screen partnership with Finn, played by Sam Richardson, is established quickly making the situation believable that they like each other from the off. The rest of the cast also do well with their roles, really leaning into the absurd natures of their characters. The issue is that unlike some other films from this genre, not every character is given a chance to breathe, meaning some lack decent character arcs or even prominent moments on screen.
The movie is well shot and there are some really nice looking scenes, from the scenery of Beaverfield to the action scenes when there is an attack. Some key moments are kept out of shot at times, meaning you have to choose whether you trust a character’s account version of events or not. What is good is that Werewolves Within does not follow quite the obvious path and conclusion. Instead, it sets up an ending that few will have seen coming as the relationships between characters reach their conclusions.