October is officially here and you know what that means: pumpkin spice lattes, cozy blankets and monster movies. Marvel is celebrating the spooky season with their newest Disney+ entry, Werewolf By Night. What makes this entry so unique compared to Marvel’s usual Disney+ fair, is that it’s a one time special rather than a series with weekly episodes. It’s completely detached from the greater MCU and, as a result, it’s allotted a certain level of creative freedoms that other entries might not receive. For instance, its use of black and white cinematography is something we wouldn’t find in the wider MCU; however, here it’s used to create a vintage ambiance reminiscent of the monster movies that were so popular in the 1950’s.
A group of deadly and accomplished monster hunters are gathered at the mysterious Bloodstone Temple. They’re told that a monster will be released within the compound, the first to successfully kill the beast and obtain the powerful Bloodstone embedded in its hide will be declared the victor and take on the role of leader. However, the monster they hunt isn’t the only dangerous beast within these walls. The hunters will also have to survive attacks from their competitors as the night quickly turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Horror is my favorite genre of film. However, it’s a genre that is extremely difficult to pull off well. 2022 has been an astounding year for horror with movies like X, Scream, Barbarian and Pearl all reaching new and exciting heights in the genre that often feels tired and predictable. While Werewolf By Night doesn’t lean too heavily into the horror side of its story, it beautifully recreates the style and atmosphere of old school horror classics.
When any self respecting horror hound thinks of monster movies, they think of the Universal Classics: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Creature From The Black Lagoon and (of course) The Wolf Man. These are the movies that Werewolf By Night most closely pays tribute to. It creates its own world, however its influences are undeniable and it perfectly balances homage with originality. This is the most violent we’ve seen the MCU go. Although the black and white helps to dull the impact of the gore, it’s still elevated to a level of violence that may surprise fans.
Gael Garcia Bernal (Old) plays Jack Russell; yes, the name is a bit on the nose, but comics aren’t exactly known for their subtlety. He brings the character to life with a mixture of vulnerability and confidence that shouldn’t work, but somehow does. He’s seen and experienced things that most could never imagine, and those experiences have forced him to remain guarded. It’s Gael’s performance prior to his transformation that sets the stage for the climactic finale. The transformation itself is magnificently executed, rivaled only by An American Werewolf In London for the best of its kind.
#WerewolfByNight was a Howling Good Time! A throwback to the days of the classic #UniversalMonsters. There's action, gore, thrills and a touch of 'An American Werewolf In London' with top notch cinematography and choreography. All wrapped up in a tightly paced 53 minutes. pic.twitter.com/uIMaQlNgL4
— Joshua From The Black Lagoon (@MrMovieGuy86) October 4, 2022
Through a blend of stark blacks and whites and a few splashes of color, Werewolf By Night creates a visually stylistic masterpiece unlike anything else we’ve seen from Marvel. Just as WandaVision perfectly embodied the era of classic sitcom television, Werewolf By Night perfectly embodies the era of the Universal Monsters. It feels vintage and new at the same time; rugged and sleek. It’s a perfect Halloween special that delivers on both tricks and treats for a thrilling hour of entertainment that will leave you howling for more. 9/10