Written by: Mishna Wolff
Starring: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus
Moving into any town for work brings different pressures and nervousness seeing as you have to meet the new people around you. This especially gets more difficult when there happens to be some murderous force out there driving a sense of paranoia through the town. It means plenty of tension will begin to rise and the way Werewolves Within crafts it all allows for such a joyous level of fun despite its overt silliness.
Transferred to be a park ranger for a small town named Beaverfield, Finn (Sam Richardson) gets to know the townsfolk. However, when murders begin to occur, the inhabitants of this small town congregate at the local inn when it gets pieced together the assailant, which can turn into a werewolf, is amongst them.
Very much working out as comedic werewolf Whodunit, this feature makes no illusions of its intention and tone and it ends up for the better. Silliness is a given and trying to solve the mystery of this assailant becomes the name of the game for the audience as well as Finn. However, before going into the mystery of it all, the players need to be set and this film does such a good job of doing that in incredibly comedic ways.
Yes, you have Finn, the new park ranger, who brings a level of kindness and care one would expect from a role put on Sam Richardson. Stemming from his time in Veep, it makes perfect sense he gets brought on for this role, as it was seemingly made for him. He definitely did not waste the opportunity and truly allows for his demeanor to clash with others in various comedic circumstances. However, the rest of the characters add texture to the story and the introduction to all of the quirky townsfolk allows for the mystery to have some intriguing flavor. Each of them comes with this probability of guilt, but the idea any of them is turning into a werewolf allows for a suspension of belief. From the incredibly sweet Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) to the obnoxiousness of Joaquim (Harvey Guillén).
When it gets to the mystery-solving aspect, this film demonstrates an awareness of its circumstances and how it impacts the characters. In fact, many of the characters make references that align directly with the thoughts of the audience as they try to piece everything together along with the narrative. It’s where much of the comedy comes from, as it matches a level of ridiculousness with the genuine fear emanating from the characters as they go through this experience. This film succeeds in crafting a claustrophobic space within such a remote town and a fairly large inn. The production design allows for just enough space for things to spread out while also keeping everything tight where in an instant the assailant can take out another town member without the others knowing.
As one would anticipate, paranoia grows as the frustration in finding out the identity of the werewolf drives some individuals to the edge. All of this madness and you just have nice-guy Finn in the middle of it all trying to fulfill his role as a park ranger. Such a fun character to throw into the thick of things in this story and it makes for quite the combination and contrast as a whole. Plenty of backstabbing and payback gets unleashed as well, which indicates there has been some bad blood brewing amongst these townsfolk for a while. The angst and tension of this situation will let everything spill out.
As fun as the first half of the feature proves to be in setting up everything, the feature does struggle as it gets towards the end, and the identity of the werewolf gets revealed. The comedy remains throughout, but it does not carry the same level of quality and pretty much loses steam by the time the conclusion arrives. However, what it does from the onset and the way it has these characters clash makes for an entertaining time, especially when considering this film works as an adaptation of a game. As a result, it can definitely be seen as one of the better video game adaptations, even if the standard is not very high.