Monday, 2 November 2015

Howl (2015)

The second horror film from Paul Hyett, director of THE SEASONING HOUSE, gets a UK DVD and Blu-ray release courtesy of Metrodome.
Last train. Full moon. All change. The poster's tag line and the movie's title should be all you need to let you know what this one's about. At 11.59pm a local train service sets off out of Waterloo, filled with a motley collection of passengers, very few of whom, if any, are going to reach their intended destination. Why? Because it turns out that living in one of those fabled British Horror Forests that Hammer and their ilk used to portray so well, is a colony of werewolves who prey on local wildlife and the occasional trainload of passengers. When the train grinds to a halt thanks to a well-placed deer under the bogies, it's the cue for an attack on the tiny commuter train and its occupants.

Nowhere near as grim as THE SEASONING HOUSE, HOWL has been compared to John Landis' AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and Neil Marshall's DOG SOLDIERS, but you're far better off ignoring those comparisons as HOWL is a different sort of beast (sorry) altogether. The emphasis here is on claustrophobic suspense, rather than elaborate transformation scenes, and rather than a special effect extravaganza, if you go in expecting something more akin to an late night BBC play with werewolves you won't be disappointed. 

The script fills the train with stock characters of the thinnest cardboard, but they are fleshed out nicely by seasoned actors like Shauna MacDonald and blink-and-you'll-miss-him Sean Pertwee. The werewolves themselves are a nice attempt to do something different - rather than a pack of sleek powerful killing machines there's enough variety in the designs that we get the impression of a community of differing ages and a fairly impoverished one at that. Broken Britain Werewolves? Now there's subtext for you - a horror film that features monsters echoing the British Age of Austerity. Very nice indeed.

Extras consist of a number of little featurettes detailing the making of the film and including interviews with director Hyett and the screenwriters. Each last about five minutes but there's a 'Play All' option. 
HOWL is a very decent, claustrophobic, low budget British werewolf picture. Towards the end of the film we get some shots of landscape that are as bleak and as washed out as in Hyett's previous film. At HOWL'S UK premiere I asked the director if that was how Paul Hyett sees the world. The answer was a resounding yes.

         Let's see some more horror films from this man.

Metrodome released Paul Hyett's HOWL on Region B Blu-ray and Region 2 DVD on 26th October 2015

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