Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Howl (2015)

Joe is having a pretty rotten day.  He returns from his shift as a train guard to discover that he's been passed over for a promotion, and the jerk that did get the job is forcing him to pull a double-shift.  That means he'll be working the midnight train.  About the only positive is that he'll be sharing the work with the attractive Ellen, for whom he clearly has a Thing.

Alas for Joe, his troubles are just beginning.  The train hits a deer while passing through some woods, damaging the engine, and then the driver - who is investigating the damage - vanishes.  Which is when the fecal matter really rains down on poor Joe, since the reason for the driver's disappearance is werewolves.  Now Joe, Ellen and the train's passengers must fight to survive against these most unexpected of dangers.

So basically what we have here is Dog Soldiers on a (stationary) train.  This film even casts Dog Soldiers' Sean Pertwee as the aforementioned train driver, going so far as to put his name on the cover of the DVD.  Don't be taken in, though: Pertwee doesn't get so much as a line before he's gobbled up.  It's the stuntiest of stunt-casting.

Howl is not devoid of virtues: it does a decent job of introducing its cast and said cast does a fine job with the roles they are given.  I also give it points for doing something different with the visual design of the werewolves, even if I am not actually a fan of said design.

But as you might imagine of any film where I say "it's not devoid of virtues", there's quite a bit wrong here too.  Mostly in terms of the writing.  Pretty much every attempt at humour in the script is a bad idea, for instance, and the conclusion doesn't seem to be quite sure what tone it is going for: Is it tragedy? Heroic sacrifice? Schadenfreude?  It seems to be including a bit of everything, and therefore fails to really achieve any of them.

Basically, if the premise of this film sounds like something you'd enjoy ... you should just (re-)watch Dog Soldiers instead.

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