★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Seth Breedlove
Lovers of lycanthropy, devotees of dogmen, and cryptozoology enthusiasts will want to check out American Werewolves, the latest documentary from the stellar Small Town Monsters crew.
Small Town Monsters has been putting out, in my opinion, the best cryptid and UFO documentaries of the past seven years. From earlier efforts The Minerva Monster and The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear to the ongoing On the Trail of UFOs series, director Seth Breedlove and company have been crafting a superb series of films that eschew sensationalism in favor of a more grounded approach, always presenting eye witnesses to strange incidents in a respectful light. American Werewolves, the latest effort from Breedlove, is a thrilling addition to the Small Town Monsters oeuvre.
Whereas most Small Town Monsters documentaries focus on the area of the incidents and its history and residents, as well as what happened there — sort of a travelog meets investigative reporting combination — American Werewolves hones in more on first-person accounts. People who believe they have encountered dogmen — aggressive, hirsute bipedal canines with the head of a dog or wolf but with human-like limbs, that walk and stand upright — appear on camera and recount their stories. Breedlove and some of his crew members often appear in their documentaries, but not here. The spotlight is firmly fixed on men and women who had terrifying encounters with something that can’t be easily explained away.
The experiences related here run from the eerie to the dubious — one witness claims to have had his hunting camp approached by both a dogman and Bigfoot at the same time — but it does seem that these people saw something that has stayed with them their entire lives. The emotion from one interviewee is incredibly poignant. No facts to strengthen cases are presented, though, such as official accounts or news reports about allegedly missing people in the areas mentioned. Viewers are asked to take these talking heads at their word, which may feel a bit of a stretch in some cases.
Rather than dramatic recreations, Breedlove and company use shots of well-rendered werewolf/dogman that add to the creepy atmosphere of the documentary. As always with Small Town monsters documentaries, the production values are strong.
To get the feel of Small Town Monsters’ usual, more research-oriented style of documentaries, I would recommend one of their previous efforts for those unfamiliar with the filmmaking company and its output who are looking for a strong introduction to the crew’s work; however, fans of the company’s documentaries and those who love lycanthropy folklore, films, and fiction should find plenty to enjoy about American Werewolves.
Review by Joseph Perry
American Werewolves debuts on major streaming platforms on July 5th, from 1091 Pictures, including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and FandangoNOW.