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I’m not that type of hunter.


Werewolf by Night


I’ll readily admit that I’ve tended to give anything with Gael García Bernal a wide berth. I think it was The Science of Sleep that did it for me. He’s quite likeable here, however, so perhaps I did him an injustice. One imagines the relative success of Werewolf by Night is not dissimilar to that of Andor, in that it wasn’t the woke-focus of its production head (Kevin Feige and Kathleen Kennedy respectively) and so managed to slip by relatively unsullied. 

How many composers have turned director? Have any? I’m sure there are a few, but none spring to mind. Michael Giacchino’s foray is something of a Universal horror homage in terms of its black-and-white aesthetic and relatively unadorned wolfman (who rather resembles David McNaughton’s American Werewolf in London mid-transformation, or a slightly less prostheticised Oliver Reed from Curse of the Werewolf). 

But in terms of plotline, this more like a mashup of a Hammer movie and an episode of The Avengers (okay, I’m thinking of The Superlative Seven, rather than in general), with an assembly of monster hunters, including Jack Russel (Bernal), called upon to compete for supernatural artefact the Bloodstone upon the death of Ulysses Bloodstone. Whoever kills the monster gets the stone. Only, we soon learn the monster – Man-Thing/Ted – is Jack’s pal, and when Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) agrees to a deal where Jack frees Ted (the Bloodstone has been implanted in the creature) and Elsa gets the stone, the only fly in the ointment is that Jack touching the stone reveals his were-identity.

There isn’t anything very finessed here, not in a mere fifty minutes, but being to the point and free from baggage is probably Werewolf by Night’s greatest strength. I haven’t dared dip into Ms Marvel or She-Hulk; there was a point where I’d give anything MCU a look, not so much out of duty as because there’d usually be something to appreciate, but that has well and truly collapsed in Phase IV. Werewolf offers a glimmer of light, that the MCU, by going off piste, might recover some poise at some stage in the distant future, cast off the woke yoke and get on with telling stories rather than hitting social-conditioning targets. 

Bernal’s agreeable, Donnelly serviceable. Harriet Sansom Harris suitably invidious as main antagonist Verussa Bloodstone (no tears shed when she loses her head). The hunters aren’t so much sketched out as given costumes, with Jovan (Kirk R Thatcher) big and shouting a lot and Azarel (Eugenie Bondurant) coming on like Bowie in Ashes to Ashes mode. Man-Thing is winningly realised. The use of Somewhere Over the Rainbow at the end may be completely innocuous, but I can’t hear it now without assuming MKUltra connotations come attached.

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