October 23, 2011

Blu-ray Review: The Howling - Reborn

Was it as bad as I was expecting? No, but again, I was expecting pretty bad so that is faint praise delivered with a backhand. The Howling: Reborn is an obvious cash grab based on market research and a desire to get in on the Twilight craze. This is not a horror movie, it is not a werewolf movie. It is a mopey teen romance wearing the guise of what someone deemed hip and cool. If you are part of the Twilight crowd, you would be better served revisiting one of your beloved movies, or for something different go watch the Buffy the Vampure Slayer television series. If you are looking for a werewolf movie, check out Dog Soldiers or Ginger Snaps, or revisit the original The Howling.

As I reflect on the movie and think about where to go when writing about it, I feel as if I might have started with the end of the review than the start. The title can only be explained as some producer still had his hands on the rights to the The Howling name and was looking to make some cash off of it. Not unlike some of those later Hellraiser sequels which began life as unrelated horror scripts that had the Pinhead stuff squeezed in late in the process.

Watching The Howling: Reborn, one thing is abundantly clear, thus has nothing to do with the very good Joe Dante directed original film from back in 1981. Despite both films, and many of the intervening sequels (bearing such delightful subtitles as Your Sister is a Werewolf, The Marsupials, and Freaks), being based on novels by Gary Brandner bear little resemblance in tone or execution.

The story centers on Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron), a meek and nerdy high school senior with a crush on the school bad girl, Elliana (Lindsey Shaw). The problem is that he lacks the guts to do anything about it. Of course, considering we know this is a werewolf movie, finds the inner power needed to finally step up and do something about it. This does not bode well with the school toughs and then the wolf pack shows up (no, not the Hangover gang, although that probably would make for a better movie) and the pace begins to pick up.

There is some subplot stuff about Will's dead mother and his father, and while they so all tie in to Will's tale, they seem to be little more than excuses to pad out the running time and give us a break from the "romance."

I cannot say much about the plot of this movie. It really is not very good. It offers nothing new, nothing original. Everything has a ho-hum feel to it, as if it is just a series of bits based off of other material. A copy of a copy, if you will. I see Twilight, The Lost Boys, Harry Potter, and Teen Wolf. Given more time I could probably come up with others, but I really don't want to take the time.

The Howling: Reborn is a movie about teen alienation, feeling like no one cares, feeling like you will never fit in, feeling like life is passing you by. It is about finding the inner strength to take control of your life and not letting life pass you by. This runs parallel to the idea of human nature versus animal nature and the ability to control one or the other. Of course, this is nothing new and the movie is sure to explain it all to you with the occasional intrusion of narration from the Will character.

Audio/Video. The movie is presented in a ratio of 1.85:1 and for the most part looks pretty good. The film looks like a low budge production and it shows in the look of the film, it doesn't have that Hollywood sheen to it. Still, there is pretty good detail level, especially in close up. The color palette is of the washed out variety, there are few scenes where colors pop, the most notable being with the makeshift flamethrowers. It suffers a bit later in the film during the werewolf action where the camera gets shakier and the editing faster. The image gets a little muddy in these fast cut shadowy scenes.

The audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and generally sounds good. The surrounds are not all that active, getting a little more action during the mentioned werewolf fights. The dialog is always clear and the music plays nicely. It is not a terribly lively track but it does do its job without distinguishing itself in any fashion.


  • Commentary. The track features writer/director Joe Nimziki and star Lindsey Shaw. There is a lot of backslapping in the trailer, but there is also some good information about the production. Still, unless you want to sit through it again, probably not a must listen.
  • The Making of The Howling: Reborn. This featurette runs just seconds shy of 30-minutes. This takes you through the production and development of the story, shooting, acting, and effects wth interviews and plenty of set footage.
  • Storyboard Gallery. 
Bottonline. Not exactly the joke I was expecting. However, that isn't praise as the movie comes across more as lazy and derivative with nothing of its own to say and nothing new to offer. It is a feature that just comes across as limp and ineffectual hoping to bank on a name that still seems to have a little cache left in it combined with a look that recalls recent teen hits. Nothing to see here, move along.

Not Recommended.

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: The Howling - Reborn on Blogcritics.

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