Werewolf By Night TV REVIEW: a classic horror tale with dark & twisted promises for the MCU's future



Director: Michael Giacchino, Writers: Heather Quinn, Peter Cameron, Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Carey Jones.


 

Monster hunters are called to the wake of one Ulysses Bloodstone, but are met not with mourning, but with a challenge: an ancient relic with eldritch power is up for grabs . . . for the hunter able to fell a monster in the garden. Easy enough for a group of monster hunters, right? You'd think so, but with twists aplenty and chills/thrills in abundance, Marvels newest foray into the horrific delights as a standalone, and tantalizes as a promise for the future.


Werewolf By Night #32 (1972); Cover by Gil Kane & Al Milgrom; Hopefully this is artistic forshadowing for the MCU

At once a deft homage to the bygone times of a supernaturally hairy Lon Chaney, as well as a dark origin for a new direction in the MCU, Werewolf By Night is the first of its kind as far as the MCU is concerned — if you didn't get that Lon Chaney remark, stay tuned for my further recommendations. Labeled as a "Marvel Studios Special Presentation", this hour-long viewing is neither a movie or a series; rather, it acts a cornerstone upon which the MCU aims to introduce a darker side to their mythos, one rife with creatures of the night. Fresh from Moon Knight's trek to the darker fringes of their capes-and-cowls world, Marvel dares to go darker by pulling from their more chilling comics sources and influences.


Despite being dead, Ulysses Bloodstone still has some final words

Werewolf By Night captures the style of classic horror that holds strong bonds with the early comics industry. Macabre and thrilling tales won the day and they were told with bravado, like Poe-esque soliloquies of terror that are drawn out for maximum suspense. This story is reminiscent of classics like Lon Chaney's The Wolf Man and Bela Lugosi's Dracula; a commonplace yet intriguing pull brings our players together while a supernatural — often fatal — element arrives to wreak the grandest of havoc. While Werewolf By Night begins with the predictable setting up of dominos, I was constantly surprised by how these dominos fell, as well as the shape they ultimately formed. Bernal and Donnelly steal the show as Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone, respectively, with operatic but thoughtful performances that ground an otherwise ethereal story.



Elsa Bloodstone watches in horror as a creature appears

A black and white color palette lends Marvel leeway in their depictions of gore in this special. Rinsed of all reds, it becomes possible to show some diet evisceration — for the kids, of course; however, the lack of outright blood-and-guts creates an unrivaled tension. The use of shadows, given this monochrome wash, is unabashedly imaginative with certain moments being memorable, if not iconic. This is only supported by the use of practical effects that elevates the feel of artistry throughout the special. Of course, there is still the expected CGI though not overly so. Music blares throughout this special with reckless and nostalgic abandon, with roaring horns amid scratchy sound quality radiating a brand of horror sound often reserved for bargain bin VHS tapes of classic Universal horror pictures. The overall look, feel, and sound of Werewolf By Night seems like two eras of filmmaking expertly intertwined to deliver a hard candy shell of horror that gives way to the familiar and expected moral heart of the MCU.



Werewolf By Night delights in introducing the MCU's darker half. A classic feel and original approach set this special apart from other MCU offerings but also affirms the approach Marvel has been taking with their many original series. With writers Heather Quinn (Hawkeye) and Peter Cameron (Moon Knight, WandaVision) at the helm of Werewolf By Night, the future of a MCU populated by Blade, Moon Knight, and hopefully even Dracula himself is becoming so close I'm already terrified with excitement. Originality, quality, and style are keywords when describing Werewolf By Night.


Watch now on Disney+!


If you liked the overall vibe, as it were, of Werewolf By Night, then do I have Recommendations for you! Buy and read the original Werewolf By Night comics here! Maybe you'd like something more superhero-centric? Maybe more classic films? For the former I'd say you should go back to the beginnings of Moon Knight in Moon Knight: Bad Moon Rising. For the latter, you absolutely must give Lon Chaney's The Wolf Man a chance here!


 

Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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