Film Review: Howl (2015)

It may feature Elliot Cowan tied up for a bit but British werewolf movie Howl doesn’t quite thrill as much as all that

“We’re gonna do whatever it takes to survive, all of us”

I wouldn’t often be heading for low-budget British horror for my film viewing but in an effort to watch most things Elliot Cowan has been in, I found myself at Howl (available to stream on Amazon Prime). Directed by Paul Hyett and written by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, it fulfils many of the tropes of the genre without ever feeling like it is going to be more.

Which is all fine and dandy if that’s your bag. Commuter train broken down in the British countryside, tick. A bunch of strangers all with annoying personality quirks, tick. A handsome lead who is forced to step up to try and save the day, tick. And shadowy monsters who scare the bejeesus out of us, a tick to begin as when they stay in those shadows, there are some proper scares. Once they come into the (moon)light, they’re not quite as effective. 

Ed Speleers is the beleagured train guard through whom the story is largely seen. And if there’s something grimly amusing about the real horror (at first) being the passengers – Cowan’s arrogant businessman, Shauna Macdonald’s also arrogant businesswoman, the young woman playing her music out loud et al – it soon becomes clear that there’s little humour at play here.

So Howl becomes a straightforward decimation of a cast of largely unlikeable and ultimately disposable characters – the script does too little to engage us in their fates. And with nothing given to us to provide any context to the werewolves (where they came from, how they’ve been undetected etc), the whole thing – whilst watchable – proves forgettable.

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