In 2010, Universal Studios attempted to breathe new life into its very own classic monster flick by remaking The Wolf Man — one of the few horror franchises within the Universal globe that hadn’t already been ruined by talent-less filmmakers bearing names such as Stephen Sommers, though the character of the man-wolf had previously played a part in that god-awful Van Helsing movie. Despite returning to the application of actual genuine bona fide make-up instead of CGI — an indispensable ingredient used in the original film and its follow-up features — 2010’s The Wolf Man nevertheless relied on shoddy computer effects to alienate its viewers.
A poor script and some diabolical overacting on behalf of some the film’s stars didn’t help matters much. Worse still, the film was a box office failure — drowning any hopes the studio had of making a sequel, but leaving the door open for something else entirely. And, with the advent of Universal’s direct-to-video cheesefest Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, we have achieved just that: something else entirely.
The story plays out as if studio executives handed a couple hundred bucks each to several hard-up low-rent writers and interns hungry for fame and said, “Look, just take whatever you want from every other film you may have seen and throw it in here” — which is clearly evident when the leader of a pack of wandering werewolf hunters offers to catch and kill a vicious shape-shifting beastie and almost repeats Robert Shaw’s dialogue from Jaws verbatim. Further confirmation can be seen as the story completely fails to utilize any sort of imagination whatsoever, incorporating one type-cast character and situation after another into one genuinely stupid movie that goes as far as to bring in vampires to try to keep things interesting. Ugh.
Oh, and the special effects are far worse than anything 2010’s The Wolf Man could dream up. And, instead of overacting courtesy of the likes of Benicio del Toro or Anthony Hopkins, we are treated to grand displays of bad acting by Ed Quinn, Steven Bauer (who disappears early in the film), Nia Peebles, and an extremely hammy Adam Croasdell. Also showing up for an easy paycheck is the once-respected performer, Stephen Rea — who inhabits a minor part as a physician who routinely dispatches of werewolf victims for fear they’ll turn into wurdulaks. What he should have done was dispatch any characters whose accents didn’t fit in with the Eastern European old-world setting and look — in which case, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us would have been one extremely short movie.
Sadly, ’twas not the case here.
Universal brings us this idiotic title in a surprisingly stunning High-Def presentation that shows off the shot-on-digital flick quite well. Colors are strong (though a bit muted — deliberately — in many instances), detail is very fine, and contrast is well-balanced. Accompanying the movie is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack that delivers during the film’s more “intense” sequences, but which remains somewhat bland during others. Of course, the whole damn movie is bland, so I really don’t care overall.
In terms of special features, the Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack of Werewolf: The Beast Among Us includes several behind-the-scenes/making-of featurettes (which won’t do a thing for you, I’m fairly certain), a couple of deleted scenes, and a rather lively audio commentary by director/co-writer Louis Morneau and producer Mike Elliott — who seem proud of their low-budget abomination. Interestingly enough, this direct-to-video feature is included here in both unrated and R-rated versions — which is quite silly when you think about it. If only they had included a third cut of the film wherein it was actually tolerable, eh?
In short, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is bad. Really terribly bad. It’s also quite funny: not in the usual so-bad-it’s-good sense we’re all used to, but because Universal tried so hard to not have another Wolf Man remake on their hands, only to wind up with something far worse instead.