American Werewolves Movie Review: Has the Vibe of a 1980’s Network Special About Cryptids

The independent production company Small Town Monsters is not afraid to explore topics in the worlds of the strange and paranormal. They have looked into topics like Mothman, The Flatwoods Monster, and the Bray Road Beast. Their newest project, American Werewolves, is directed by Seth Breedlove and produced by Heather Moser. The new documentary focuses on the experiences of some of the people who claim to have had experiences with dogmen which are werewolf type creatures who seem to be half-man and half-dog. 

American Werewolves intersplices re-creations of accounts with interviews with witnesses at the heart of those accounts. The film also includes interviews with paranormal and cryptid researchers. The accounts throughout the documentary are interesting and it is evident that these people have been changed by their encounters. Those accounts were the most compelling part of the documentary for me. However, the overall film has some challenges. 

First off, it lacks any footage or photos of these kinds of creatures. And I know that might be a tall order for a cryptid documentary, but the re-creations used of an actor in a dogman suit became very repetitive very early on. I could easily listen to the witnesses and the researchers, but after a while, I felt like I was seeing the same thing over and over. It also appeared to be the same costume used in the re-creations in the other Small Town Monsters documentary, The Beast of Bray Road.

There are also some consistency issues with the film. Some of the interview subjects were framed way too close while others were framed just fine. And while the researchers had lower-third graphics on them, the witnesses did not and were only identified at the beginning of each of their segments. This made it difficult to follow at times and made me wonder if I had missed the identifiers. 

Stylistically. the filmmakers chose to give American Werewolves the vibe of a 1980’s network special about cryptids. However for me that caused more harm than good. The choice to shoot it in a 4:3 aspect ratio made it feel actually dated and not in a good way. I think you can still have a retro feel to a film, while also keeping a widescreen format. Then the playing up of the retro effects distracts from the seriousness of these witness accounts. Folks who have experiences like this have a difficult enough time sharing their stories, and so that kind of framing around these experiences made it feel like the filmmakers were not taking these accounts as seriously as they should.

I’m sure that American Werewolves will find an audience with some folks, but this one was just not for me. 

American Werewolves has a runtime of 81 minutes and debuts on major streaming platforms on July 5th.

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Darcy Staniforth

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