Synopsis – When passengers on a train are attacked by a creature, they must band together in order to survive until morning – Howl
Director – Paul Hyett
Starring – Ed Speleers, Sam Gittins, Rosie Day, Brett Goldstein
Released – 2015
For fans of Dog Soldiers, An American Werewolf in London, Midnight Meat Train
For a long time, it has been my belief that most modern werewolf movies tend to spend too much time on the effects to focus on making the stories scary, which is a shame as the idea of a ferocious beast hiding in plain sight should be an easy basis to form a successful horror movie around, which partly explains why I wasn’t expecting great things going into the straight-to-DVD horror movie. But this low-budget British production proves that once in a while you might strike gold on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Now, I’m not heralding Howl as a return to the old-school gothic werewolf movies of the ’50s or camp creature features of the ’80s. But director Paul Hyett managed with a small cast and cramped settings, to produce a movie that boasted a real sense of dread and fear, reminding me why this creature has been the basis of folklore throughout the centuries, especially as the werewolves close in on the train and the individuals trapped within.
The effects in the movie were quite good, I’ve spoken on multiple occasions about the joys of seeing good practical effects and how they beat CGI hands down. And here is no different, the creatures look monstrous, with an interesting conceptual design, while the gore works well to entertain those who love their films bloody. So it was indeed a treat to behold on the screen.
Howl, also boasts a pretty good ensemble of cast, with each member fully committed to the rather cliché roles they were given (the chav, the posh guy, the old couple etc.), which brings me onto the biggest issue facing the movie. These cliched characters made it all too easy to predict who would survive, who wouldn’t and in what order they would likely go. It would have been nice if Hyett had done more to subvert expectations, though I’d imagine the limitations of the budget went a long way to explaining why this wasn’t so.
Overall, Howl isn’t a classic but does end up as a decent horror movie that although a little predictable, did keep me entertained from start to finish and remains rewatchable enough that keeping it in my DVD collection doesn’t feel like a waste of space.