Howl Review

Howl is a 2015 direct-to-video British monster horror film directed by Paul Hyett, starring Ed Speleers, Sean Pertwee, Holly Weston, Shauna Macdonald, Elliot Cowan, Rosie Day, Calvin Dean, Duncan Preston, and Ross Mullan.  The plot follows passengers on a train who are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning.


Positions:

  • Good characters
  • Interesting premise
  • Good direction
  • Good performances
  • Good use of special effects
  • Good score

Negatives:

  • Story isn’t compelling
  • Character troupes

Plot:  We’ve had snakes on a train, we’ve had zombies on a train.  Hell, we’ve even had a movie with a Groundhog’s Day effect on a train.  Now we’ve got werewolves.  The plot follows a group of passengers on a train who are attacked by a “werewolf” and must band together to survive into the morning.  Is it a good movie?  It is interesting but it does go at a pretty slow pace.

Characters:  The characters are decent although there are some troupes not worth caring about.  The main characters consist of train guard Joe Griffin (Speleers), Kate (Macdonald), Adrian (Cowan), Matthew (Shah), Billy (Gittens), Nina (Day), Paul (Dean), Ged (Preston) and his wife Jenny (Marson), and tea-trolley girl, Ellen (Weston). The film lacks enough exposition to make them likable or interesting with no standout quirks. The film does focus on Joe but there isn’t really much to the character.  He initially comes off as a bit of a douche but does lighten up throughout the course of the film. The survivors look up to Joe for some reason even though he has shown little to no leadership skills. Can’t believe Eragorn (Speleers) has gone from riding dragons to battling werewolves on a train.  (3 out of 5)

Cast: The performances are pretty decent.  The movie has a pretty solid main cast consisting of Ed Speleers (Joe), Holly Weston (Ellen), Shauna Macdonald (Kate), Elliot Cowan (Adrian), Amit Shah (Matthew), Sam Gittens (Billy), Ania Marson (Jenny), Duncan Preston (Ged), and Sean Pertwee (Tony).  (3 out of 5)

Visuals:  The great use of camera does a great job of giving the film a dark look.  The creature effects are more than satisfying with a great use of both CGI and practical that give them an unique look. Especially the glowing eyes which are most effective as the creatures being as dark silhouettes. The train itself does feel claustrophobic especially when it comes to the really intense moments. (3 out of 5)

Score:   Thumbs up to Paul E. Francis for the soundtrack.  The musical composition is solid and does a good job of maintaining a dark and suspenseful atmosphere. (3 out of 5)

Writing:  Now when it comes to the direction, Paul Hyett does a pretty good job of making a suspenseful film.  The problem with the movie is that for as interesting an idea it is, there are some things that hold it back.   If these characters are on a train being ravaged by werewolves there should’ve been more of a struggle for survival.  Perhaps have the characters moving from car to car.  Actually have the characters compete, give us a reason to root for them. They don’t necessarily have to be badasses but at least put up a fight. Also, it doesn’t really feel like it’s long enough. This could’ve made the story more compelling.  Now, that’s not saying that they don’t fight back because they do.  But it’s the defensive strategy that keeps the film feeling slow.  The film does a great job of illustrating this during the first confrontation where all of the passengers fight and kill it.  Two thumbs up.  One of the troupes is that one of the passengers is bitten and obviously infected but the douchebag passenger sees her as a threat and no one else does. Of course, this leads to a character’s death.  (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Howl might not be the best werewolf movie but it is a damn good entertaining one.  Despite the many troupes that the movie suffers from it does have a good cast, good performances, an interesting story, and good special effects.  Howl gets 3 out of 5.

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