Werewolves are more than just humans that turn into creatures under the shiny full moon. They’re also a manifestation of the beast from within. Even as its story revolves around the traditional lycanthropic villain and acts as a Christie-esque whodunit once the colorful characters try to decipher who the werewolf is, the fittingly titled Werewolves Within by director Josh Ruben is also about people releasing their inner monster as they butt heads over greedy hungers.
As the citizens of Beaverfield get picked off one by one by the lupine fiend, they become divided by oil tycoon Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall) and his attempt to buy out the town to create a gas pipeline. The tension-fueled citizens include gay couple Devon (Cheyenne Jackson) and Joaquin Wolfson (Harvey Guillem), Trisha Anderson (Michaela Watkins), mail carrier Cecily (Milana Vayntrub), and Finn (Sam Richardson), a new town resident and forest ranger who serves as our central protagonist.
Everyone around Finn creates a storm of chaos that’s like a Category 4 Hurricane. But he’s still a source of sunlight that audiences can latch onto thanks to his affable everyman persona that actor Sam Richardson showcases wonderfully. Milana Vayntrub is similarly grounded as Cecily, another town outsider, and has appealing chemistry with Richardson. A scene involving both Richardson and Vayntrub dancing to “The Sign” by Ace of Base is a highlight of their chemistry that, thanks to the catchy tune, also creates a minor nostalgia trip.
Although the actors playing the townsfolk portray them as broad caricatures, it still works because it allows Werewolves Within to play firmly into its comical sensibilities. Scenes like the opening sequence where the unseen creature claims its first victim elicit slight fear, yet the horror-comedy works best when leaning into the humor spectrum. At the same time, when our set of victims are eventually held up together in the town inn one night during a snowstorm, there is quite an apprehensive feeling because you’re not only wondering who the perpetrator is, but when the reveal of who it is will take place.
Does the transformation happen as soon as the full moon rises? Can this werewolf change at will? Rather than answer those questions, it’s best to let you see for yourself because Werewolves Within is one of those suspense stories where it’s best to go in as blind as possible. It’s a hair-raising horror-comedy that’s perhaps fit for a stormy night and, because it’s based on the Ubisoft video game of the same name, even proves that film adaptations of video games can be successful. All in all, it’s a treat for those who love horror, humor, Agatha Christie, and of course, Ace of Base.