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The Howling: Reborn (2011) Review

The Howling Reborn DVDby Jesse Miller, MoreHorror.com

The Howling: Reborn marks the eighth instalment in the series that all began with a little horror film, based on a novel by Gary Brandner and directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Hole), that showcased some fantastic make up work with some amusing tongue-in-cheek humour. Now, I’m no expert on the following entries into the franchise – I’ve only caught Howling III, and that just so happens to be one of the worst film’s I’ve ever seen - but a reboot of the series had me intrigued.

It had been a good while since I saw a terrific werewolf film – the last great one was 2002’s Dog Soldiers – so I decided to check this one out.

The end of high school is just around the corner and Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is still figuring out how to approach his long-time secret crush, bad girl Eliana (Lindsey Marie Shaw), before she disappears from his grasp forever. One particular afternoon, Eliana’s jock boyfriend catches Will looking at her and starts harassing him. Eliana intervenes and in the process invites Will to this rave before slinking off.

In hopes of finally making his move with Eliana, Will attends the rave. There he makes a horrific discovery about werewolves that will lead him on a coming of age journey like none you have ever seen before.

The Howling: Reborn claims to be based on Gary Brandner’s Return Of The Howling but bears little resemblance whatsoever to the plot of that novel or even the names of its characters. Instead, there are loose strands here from the novel – if you’re a newcomer to either Brandner’s work or the series, it won’t make much of a difference anyway, but if you’re a fan, you’ll recognize these little strands.

Yet, The Howling: Reborn hardly feels like a Howling film at all. It feels like a romance drama/coming-of-age story that just happens to feature werewolves, perhaps as a metaphor. The focus is heavily on this romantic drama between Will and Eliana, and while that’s great and all, it’s hard not to feel like this is all just appealing to the Twilight crowd.

While the film is slickly made, showcasing some stylish cinematography by Benoit Beaulieu, the script by Joe Nimziki and James Robert Johnston is a poorly written mash between a sloppy horror film and a generic teen romance. This would be an acceptable feature if the film managed to generate some chills out of the scenario – instead it left me frustrated. Such a large portion of the film is spent building the relationship between Will and Eliana that by the 45-minute mark, I was wondering if I was actually watching a horror film anymore.

When things heat up in the finale, it all gears up for an exciting smack down that, if written the right way, could’ve been quite a powerful and moving sequence. That all gets lost, of course, and what you’re left is quite a frustrating, poorly edited fight sequence that left me deeply unsatisfied. I was excited about finally getting to behold the awesome power of the werewolf design – and I can’t focus on a thing. When I finally saw the werewolves, the use of some poor CGI there was a little disappointing. But what little I saw of the werewolf design was pretty cool, if not a tad generic itself.

Given that the film focuses heavily on the two leads, I will give it to Landon Liboiron and Lindsey Shaw, the two make a cute couple and have good chemistry together, and they do manage to carry the film at least till I wanted to see where these two love birds end up - Though they sure can deliver a clunker of a cheesy line or two at times. I also particularly enjoyed the comic relief that is Will’s friend Sachin (Jesse Rath), who sprouts his geeky knowledge of werewolf films at one point and Ivana Milicevic’s performance is wonderfully over-the-top.

The Howling franchise is a series that was just howling (Yes, I had to do it) to be revived once more for the new world, and while the new world eagerly awaited such a revival, let alone a decent new werewolf film, The Howling: Reborn does almost everything wrong. The setting is wrong, the story is wrong and the lack of nasty transformation sequences and scares is just disturbing. What you’re left with is quite a disappointing reboot, albeit with some decent performances and some terrific technical work.
Let me know what you all think of it when The Howling: Reborn hits DVD and Blu-Ray on October 18th.

Comments

Submitted by kaligula (not verified) on Thu, 10/13/2011 - 01:56

kaligula's picture

That's too bad. Like you said, its been too long since a great werewolf film.

Submitted by danwolf02 (not verified) on Mon, 10/17/2011 - 00:05

danwolf02's picture

I actually liked it. I hate Twilight and love 80's horror films and The Howling Reborn I found very Entertaining. The leads were good and i didn't get bored once. The Romantic angle was believable (and if you look back a lot of werewolf movies have a romantic angle.) I will be adding it to my werewolf collection.

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