Ed Speelers plays, Joe, the unlucky guard on a midnight train ride to terror, bloodshed and a pack of werewolves for good measure. Noteworthy occupants include Sean Pertwee and Shauna MacDonald from Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers (2002) & The Descent (2005), respectively.
We have quite the onslaught of fairly decent werewolf movies in these past 12 months, such as the excellent Last Phases: Night of the Wolf (2014) released back in April. Do we owe it to WolfCop (2014) for finally erasing the stink of New Moon (2009)? Like all werewolf movies, the look is always a gradual reveal. Howl takes things in an interesting direction by giving one of its wolves of an almost troll-like appearance. This look is a lot more effective than it sounds.
The best thing about headlining a box-office fantasy film flop, such as the critical dumping ground that was Eragon (2006), is that it teaches its lead actor, Mr Speelers, to make considerably better career choices. Most notably 2011’s brutal survival flick A Lonely Place To Die. Unfortunately for Joe, being a skilled rock climber comes with a certain confidence that is lost on your average cowardly lovesick underdog. Still he makes a convincing little dweeb.
Not much can be said of Sean Pertwee’s cameo as werewolf victim no.1, but Howl’s all walks of life cast gel with one another quite nicely. They’re not too dumb, either, save for when pesky sentimentality takes over. Shauna MacDonald’s luck hasn’t improved where man-eating creatures are concerned, but she’s as feisty as ever and it’s always a pleasure to have her along for the ride. Still I would’ve preferred her to have a larger, if not soul part in the comeuppance on the villain of this piece.
Where the carnage is concerned, I’m left a little perplexed at what exactly earns Howl its 18 rated certificate. Indeed there are geysers aplenty. There’s blood everywhere! But practically everything is tastefully hidden aside from one savage, albeit brief, werewolf beating.
The last time I saw a werewolf on a train, it was the worst movie of its kind. That movie was An American Werewolf In Paris (1997). Why did they make it? God knows why. But I’m glad that someone made Howl.