I don’t see “The Howling Reborn” so much as a reboot of “The Howling” as a dramatic twist on “Teen Wolf.” That’s basically the premise behind this re-launch of the infamous “The Howling” franchise. It basically takes it back to high school with a fresh young cast of Canadians, all of whom are embroiled in the tooth and snout of the full moon madness. Landon Liboiron who is becoming a very well versed Scream king is the Teen Wolf this picture sets down on who is merely your average friendly neighborhood geek who has a destiny he is not yet aware of. Considering we barely see any werewolves at all, “The Howling Reborn” really could have been so much worse.
As a film it’s much more concerned with melodrama between fledgling teens than it is about telling a scary story and it dares to intimate that it’s a fresh new take and a new start on a series filled with clunky really awful werewolf films. How people will respond to “The Howling Reborn” depends greatly on what people are expecting to see as director Joe Nimziki takes great pains to induce the teen melodrama portion of story where Landon’s character Will is forced to endure his blossoming puberty in to a form of himself that he’s not familiar with quite yet. We’re pulled in to all sorts of unusual situations that borrow heavily from “Spider-Man” and have to watch as the film spirals in to a whodunit mystery film as a werewolf is stalking Will’s school knocking off classmates.
Meanwhile he grows in to a muscle bound primate as the story progresses while struggling with his feelings for the school’s bad girl. Nimziki and his co-writer set up a lot of scenarios that allow us to believe that perhaps there is one big conspiracy or someone is setting Will up, but it’s not developed enough. Ultimately Nimziki opts for moments that slow the narrative down to a screeching halt where characters interact romantically and nothing else. “Ginger Snaps” is a film that demonstrates the werewolf metaphor much more fluidly. It was a movie that used lycanthropy as a way of satirizing PMS, and it did it in such a way where we could become involved in the metaphor.
With Will there isn’t much to run on when it comes to a male’s body chemistry and Nimziki is void of ideas on where to go with his urges and primal rage. Thus the sudden introduction of (the insanely sexy) Ivana Milicevic that sets the film in to full motion once the hour mark has been reached and we’ve seen our fifteenth scene of two characters confessing their loves for one another. I’m not sure where this fits in to the “The Howling” legend to be honest. Is this a reboot? Is it a relaunch? Are we going to have more sequels after this? Who knows, really? “The Howling Reborn” makes the mistake of being targeted toward a specific audience rather than a broad audience and that’s why it will be filled with a crowd of folks who either despise it or enjoy it for what it brings to the table.
The DVD by Anchor Bay comes with thirty minute “Making OF” featurette that combs over all of the production quality for the film including script readings, special effects, and music and interviews the entire cast with their thoughts on the film. There’s also a Storyboard Gallery, and there’s a sweet audio commentary with director Joe Nimziki and co-star Lindsay Shaw. I’m still wondering why it’s so hard to make a decent werewolf picture. It can’t be that difficult to depict the lycanthrope legend, can it? Nevertheless “The Howling Reborn” is far from stellar, and I wouldn’t even bother calling it a masterpiece, but it’s a decent time killer with strong performances and a good head on its shoulder. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a new franchise.