Werewolf by Night is beyond anything I thought could come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a gorgeous love letter to classic horror, monster movies, and so much more. With odes to House on Haunted Hill, American Werewolf in London, Cat People, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and so much more, Werewolf by Night is a love letter from a director who expertly understands when to make homage and when to create something new. Directed by Michael Giacchino with writing by Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron, Werewolf By Night is here to kick off spooky month right when it comes to Disney+.
Abandoning the space of superheroes right in the opening credits, Werewolf By Night throws audiences into the fray. Ulysses Bloodstone has died and in that, has left a void in the monster-hunting leader. Assembled for “The Hunt,” a ceremony to prove the worthiness of the next bearer of the Bloodstone, combatants are dispatched to kill a creature more fearsome than any man or any thing they’ve they’ve ever fought.
Played by Gael García Bernal, fit with face markings reminiscent of Dia de los Muertos calaveras, he is honoring his ancestors in his participation. He’s curious, quiet, and obviously up to something more than what he is letting on. Opposite him, the only hunter more than canon fodder is Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), the heir to Bloodstone and well, a disappointment to her family. What ensures is a masterclass in understanding what to show, what to cut away from, and ultimately, how to use the building blocks of old to tell a story. More than that though, Werewolf By Night is an absolutely timeless piece of work. It captures a bygone era while also working with modern elements as well.
Less of the whodunnit I expected, Werewolf By Night is an absolutely stunning piece of work that shows that the MCU has so much more to give, especially when it allows creatives to push hard into a genre they love. While it’s easy for some to say that this is a B-movie, it isn’t. It’s a look into filming techniques, humor, and an eye for practical effects that comes from the past.
This is expertly captured in the effects work around the werewolf of it all. Human as well as monster, he shines on screen. Add in the fact that it was shot in black and white and even features the small imperfections of emerging small burns to age the already whispy choices in direction and cinematography. But with all the love of practical effects work in the sets and in the people, Werewolf By Night also boasts the best computer-generated effects work we have seen from the MCU in a long time. But to top it all off, Giacchino’s use of silhouette is gorgeous. It’s an effective way to capture the beauty of monsters, the feat they instill in those watching them, and the ambiguity they exist in.
Werewolf By Night is perfection and there is no overstating that. For those in the audience who grew up on Universal and Hammer horror, this is for you. It’s the embodiment of a love for monsters that runs deep. The monsters matter and they should.
Werewolf By Night was screened as a part of Fantastic Fest 2022, it’s streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.
Werewolf By Night
Werewolf By Night is perfection and there is no overstating that. For those in the audience who grew up on Universal and Hammer horror, this is for you. It’s the embodiment of a love for monsters that runs deep. The monsters matter, and they should.