Wer




2013
Directed By William Brent Bell
Starring AJ Cook, Sebastian Roché, and Vik Sahay |

How do you breath life into a character that has been on screen over 100 times? Considering that werewolf films date back to 1935 and we've had roughly 119 different werewolf films in that 79 year period it would seem nearly impossible to have a new take on the material. Well, Bell has done that with his film Wer. He has taken incredibly worn over source material and flipped it on its fuzzy head. So, how did he do this? He made it a procedural.

The film follows a young defense attorney (Cook) who is defending a man (Roche) accused of a double murder. At first it appears the family may have been killed by a large unknown animal but as the case continues it becomes clear that there is far more to this case. This being a werewolf film we all have an idea of where this might be heading but the approach to the material is so fresh that you are hesitant to think of it in conventional terms.

Its fine if you want to make a werewolf movie but when doing so try to keep in mind that its not Macbeth. Take your material seriously and try to ground it as much as movie about moon influenced shape shifter can be grounded. While the film is mostly played straight it never feels overly earnest or self important. The scares in this film are built on a slow intimidation or threat of impending violence. Its more atmosphere and tension than jump scares. This film in no way attempts to be a character study but it certainly puts its characters first.

Wer doesn't feel contrived or false and that says a great deal for a werewolf movie. I've never had a great deal of affection for the genre because they generally limit the stories to either tortured soul films making the monster the victim or explorations of sexuality. Exceptions being An American Werewolf in London, Brotherhood of the Wolf and Dog Soldiers. While this film touches on both elements of sexuality and isolation they are not what this film is about.

Its always nice when a filmmaker shows us there is still life in a seemingly dead story or genre. Don't go in expecting a complete reinvention of horror films as you know them but rather a simple but effective melding of two genres.



Full disclosure:
 I haven't seen Le poil de la bete but I've heard great things and look forward to checking that off my need to watch list.