★★★★ out of ★★★★★
The new park ranger in town teams up with the local mail delivery person to try and calm down the unconventional locals when it seems a werewolf may be on the loose in this lighthearted creature-feature comedy.
Directed by Josh Ruben
A cinematic cousin to fellow werewolf whodunit film The Beast Must Die (1974) and Agatha Christie adaptations such as Ten Little Indians (1965), director Josh Ruben’s Werewolves Within is a slick, fun horror comedy.
Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) arrives in the small town of Beaverfield as the new park ranger and all-around nice guy, having just been on the receiving end of a breakup with his girlfriend. Also fairly new in town is postal employee Cecily Moore (Milana Vayntrub), who shows Finn the ropes along with some flirtation time.
The locals are an eccentric bunch, as you might guess, ranging from anti-government trapper Emerson (Glenn Fleshler) to dog-loving, craft-making eccentric Trish (Michaela Watkins) — and everyone totes guns. This last fact is especially important when townspeople and animals start turning up dead, seemingly torn apart by a wild beast, and the majority of folks hole up together to determine just who the guilty lycanthrope might be.
Based, reportedly in title only, on Ubisoft’s videogame of the same name, Werewolves Within leans more toward the comedy and whodunit side of things than horror, but offers enough creature effects and victims to keep werewolf fans happy. Finn and Cecily are a great lead pair of characters with Cecily providing the majority of laughs while Finn strives to be a voice of reason, and the foibles of the varied supporting characters and their actions add plenty of amusement, too.
The chemistry between Richardson and Vayntrub is crackling, and the former plays things rather low key — as is fitting for his often befuddled character — while the latter is an energetic blast. The supporting cast members all turn in fine work, too.
Ruben, who directed last year’s Scare Me, does a fine job bringing Mishna Wolff’s clever, if sometimes familiar, screenplay to cinematic life. The technical aspects are all solid.
Though Werewolves Within follows quite a few expected genre-film beats, the film has a big heart and provides plenty of laughs and entertainment. The film is strongly recommended for horror comedy fans and anyone in the mood for some werewolf wackiness.
Werewolves Within, from IFC Films, was released in theaters on June 25, 2021, and will be available on Digital Rental and VOD from July 2, 2021 .