Director Josh Ruben has a real knack for taking snowy tundras and creating some prime horror fodder with them. While I didn’t much care for “Scare Me,” he managed to build some interesting tension with just two people in a snowy cabin. With “Werewolves Within,” it’s a bit larger in scale, but still a fantastic peek in to an engaging mystery. Ruben’s film brilliantly mixes Agatha Christie with “The Beast Must Die,” and some of The Coens for good measure.
Based on the video game of the same name, after a proposed pipeline creates divisions within the small town of Beaverfield, and a snowstorm traps its residents together inside the local inn, newly arrived forest ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) must try to keep the peace, survive the night, and uncover the truth behind a mysterious creature that has begun terrorizing the community.
While a wonderful werewolf film in its own right, director Ruben manages to conduct a fascinating mystery that involves a lot of ulterior motives and back door schemes. This allows the ultimate evil to slip in and take advantage, making Finn’s job instantly horrifying and chaotic. There’s so much ambiguity and red herrings thrown in from the first minute that we can never be sure where we’re being led. Is there really a werewolf on the loose? Are one of the town members viciously murdering their cohorts out of revenge? Or is Finn the sheep in wolf’s clothing taking advantage?
Director Ruben is able to build a lot of tension and suspense while also deriving bang up performances from the cast. Sam Richardson is stellar (and very funny) in the role as the too nice for his own good forest ranger who is immediately in over his head. The real show stopper though is Milana Vayntrub who manages to juggle her role and character depth brilliant. Vayntrub’s ace comic timing allows her to play an engaging and fascinating heroine who is small town deep down, but almost always finds ways to narrowly escape her death.
Vayntrub is an actress that’s long been deserving of her own vehicle, and here she perfectly punctuates why, as she builds such an entertaining, complete, and empathetic heroine from beginning to end. Director Ruben works with such limited scenery and a small cast, but builds such a unique and harrowing mystery. It’s horrific to see the potential of a werewolf stalking these characters, but watching them self destruct also contributes to the inherent terror of the situation. “Werewolves Within” is such a refreshing, fun, and creepy werewolf entry, one that really deserves all the acclaim it can muster.
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