Never Cry Werewolf (DVD)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Nina Dobrev, Peter Stebbings, Kevin Sorbo, Spencer Van Wyck, Sean O'Neil, Melanie Leishman
Directed by Brenton Spencer
Distributed by Genius Products
Take the teenage boy and change him into a cute 16-year old girl. Make the new next door neighbor a werewolf instead of a vampire. Replace the zombie manservant with man's best friend, a part wolf/part-German Shepherd demon dog that'll even disintegrate into a pool of ooze when finally destroyed. Include a scene where she discovers her next door neighbor is a werewolf by spying on him when he reveals his true nature by killing a prostitute he'd brought home right in front of his upstairs window right across from hers. Have the girl call the cops, have them show up at his place, and then have them mock her when she insists he's a killer werewolf. Since they've given the lead character a sex change, combine characters by having the girl herself being the dead ringer for the monster's long dead lady love and let him try to seduce her and even try turning her into a monster herself. Have her seek the assistance of a TV show host; in this case, a rugged hunting show host who turns out to be not nearly the brave, skilled hunter he plays on TV. There will even be a scene during the finale where the hunter will be so terrified by his first true confrontation with the monster that'll he'll run out of the house to get away only to encounter... Well, I won't spoil it but if you've ever seen Fright Night then you probably have some idea what's coming next. That goes for most of Never Cry Werewolf.
The screenplay for Never Cry Werewolf steals so heavily from Fright Night that you can easily imagine this having been The Asylum's mockbuster of that film had they been around 23 years ago. Never Cry Werewolf won't ever win any awards for originality, that's for sure.
Are any of you aware of this lycanthrope bylaw that states a werewolf can bypass needing a full moon and transform at will by using a charm forged from skin from the neck of a dead criminal? That's a new one for me. Didn't know they had hypnotic powers either. I also didn't realize their hearing was so acute as to be able to hear a conversations from the house next door. They really hate fire too. I mean someone lights a cigarette and this werewolf flinches.
Peter Stebbings makes for a fairly menacing werewolf, at least when he's just being creepy Jared and not actually in his Howling-esque werewolf form looks fine from the neck up but from head down looks like a bulky costume shop werewolf suit. Not the least bit credible; pretty silly, actually. Probably the reason the director tried to avoid full body shots of the beast as much as possible.
So now that we've established it won't win any awards for originality or its werewolf, the question remains as to whether or not this unoriginal movie with a so-so werewolf at least entertains. The answer is yes and no. The film is shocking watchable thanks to good performances by Nina Dobrev (of “Degrassi: The Next Generation” - if you're over the age of 25 and know this girl from having watching that program you're simply a perv), Stebbings, and Kevin Sorbo. They manage to rise above the knock-off script and the pedestrian direction. This is one of those Canadian-filmed made-for-television movies that looks every bit like a Canadian-filmed made-for-television movie.
Then there's the matter of after having played things fairly straightforward for its first half, somewhere around the halfway point the script takes an abrupt turn into too-dumb-for-its-own-good territory. The movie had a time and a place for humor, most of which gets provided by the cowardly and bumbling Redd Tucker, the not-so-great white hunter played by Kevin Sorbo, hamming it up quite nicely. I can accept how much the script lifts from Fright Night and there’s nothing wrong with adding some light touches along the way. What dragged the film down for me was how dumb it became. You can even spot the very scene where the descent into idiocy begins.
Lauren (Dobrev) goes shopping for a weapon to fight Jared with while accompanied by a doofus with red hair tips and a nose ring named Steve who has the hots for her. Hard to believe a girl who seemingly has more brains and maturity in her little pinky than this guy has in his whole body would ever fall for this dumbass. He's comic relief (of the Jar Jar Binks variety) and a potential romantic interest for Lauren all wrapped into one, as well as filling the role of this film's more reluctant version of Fright Night's Evil Ed. Yet he is so annoying and unfunny I was praying his death would come swiftly and with as little mercy as possible.
Jealous of Steve, Jared shows up at the hunting store with his demon dog and orders it to attack him right there in the middle of this shop in front of everyone. Multiple patrons are mauled and Jared himself even starts assaulting random customers. TV outdoorsman Redd Tucker happens to be there that day signing autographs; the down on his luck TV hunter whips out his trusty shotgun and shoots the dog. The dog doesn't die though. Instead it'll reveal its true demon form - shedding its skin and growing barbs - right there in the middle of this shop in front of everyone. And then Jared will transform into a werewolf and attack - right there in the middle of this shop in front of everyone. Afterwards, the whole thing gets dismissed by media and authorities as nothing more than a wild cougar attack. Like I said, things just take a turn for the stupid around this time.
What started out as a perfectly watchable Fright Night knock-off continues to be watchable; it just becomes a dumbed down Fright Night knock-off with an inconsistently annoyingly juvenile tone. I often felt like I was watching a gory Nancy Drew Halloween movie made for the ABC Family Channel, not the Sci-Fi Channel. Granted, an ABC Family Nancy Drew probably wouldn't have found herself running around in a sports bra brandishing a crossbow during the finale of one of her stories, but I'd also bet that if one of Nancy Drew's best friends ever got disemboweled the brutal slaughter of that best friend wouldn't just leave her feeling more surly than sad.
To educate herself on werewolves Lauren will rent a bunch of fake werewolf movies. One is titled "The Werewolf's Bris". Now that is one circumcision I'd like to see.
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
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