Call me crazy, but the werewolf genre has been woefully undersaturated in the last few years, maybe even the last decade. With Ginger Snaps and Dog Soldiers falling just outside that window, all we've been left with is the likes of Cursed, Late Phases, The Wolfman (remake), and maybe even Trick R' Treat (if you're bold enough to classify it as a werewolf movie)- and their quality/relationship to the genre is questionable. Now, it may be the lack of quality entries in the genre over the last ten years, but Paul Hyett's Howl is a healthy step in the right direction.
The film places put upon train guard, Joe (Ed Speleers) on a red eye London train with a handful of ungrateful mouthy passengers and his secret crush, Ellen (Holy Weston). Joe's bad luck began by finding out he'd been passed up for a promotion in favor of a cocky douchebag and only gets worse when he takes on the extra shift under a full moon. Before long the train is stopped after hitting a deer and the passengers begin to fall prey to a creature lurking out in the forest
Hyett, who served on the effects team of The Descent, plays it smart by keeping his second feature (first being The Seasoning House) very simple. If anything, the worst thing about his werewolf flick is that it's a little too simple- leaving the characters feeling incredibly thin and underdeveloped. When it comes down to it though, there's nothing wrong with wanting a huge, well designed monster tear some human shells apart from time to time, which Howl does pretty well.
There's nothing here that genre fans haven't seen before, but somehow that never manages to hold the film back from being fun and enjoyable. A few too many times Hyett stops to try and give us a reason to root for the hero, but he's far too much of a blank slate to really get behind to any significant degree. In the world of Howl it's the werewolf design and attack sequences that people will take away from the experience. There's nothing flashy about the design in general, in face it kind of looks like the illegitimate love-child of Victor Crowley (Hatchet) and a diseased stray dog with patchy hair. Sure doesn't sound like much, but add in the hypnotic glowing eyes and committed performances by those who are in transformation and what would normally come off as boring/mediocre becomes genuinely creepy and visually striking.
We are still a little ways off from the next truly unforgettable werewolf flick, but with Howl genre fans have at least something to hang their hat on till it gets here. With a bare bones plot, a mostly unique werewolf design, stylish and genuinely creepy sets help to make Hyett's flick a howling good time....ugh, I already apologize for that.