Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno
Director Juan Martinez Moreno’s Spanish werewolf horror-comedy Game of Werewolves (originally titled Lobos de Arga and heading to DVD in some places as Attack of the Werewolves) was this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival’s closing gala film and proved to be the bona fide crowd pleaser the audience was seeking because of its ability to take pride in the fact that it is an homage to all the werewolf movies we fell in love with while growing up.
After a disturbing animated prologue where a malicious heiress’ innocent son is plagued with a gypsy curse that turns him into a werewolf every full moon for the next 100 years after his tenth birthday, the film jumps to present day and introduces us to Tomas (Otxoa), a recently dumped man who returns to his home town of Arga with his dog in hopes of writing a new novel.
Unfortunately his procrastinating is rudely interrupted when the villagers of the town learn of his arrival. Although Tomas has no idea, he just happens to be the last male in the lineage line of the malicious heiress, and the only way to lift the curse of the werewolf is to feed Tomas to it on the 100th anniversary of the day the boy was initially turned into a beast. From then on Tomas, his friends and his dog are forced to run away from both the villagers and the werewolf; and they find a gruesome, ill-advised and hilarious way of cheating the curse. As one would expect, their plan doesn’t go as expected, and the consequences from their actions multiply in a horrifying, albeit entertaining, way.
Game of Werewolves takes us back to a time when werewolves walked on two legs and weren’t emasculated, over-sized CGI wolves that fell in love with vampire babies. It is able to poke fun at and successfully merge elements of Universal’s The Wolf Man, American Werewolf in London and the Hombre Lobo franchise in a comical manner.
The film’s only downside is that because of the comedic aspects throughout, there is no real impending doom feeling for the main characters. Somehow the werewolves are able to slash their way through supporting characters like a knife through butter, yet are unable to dispatch the goofy main group, which takes away the fright factor from potentially great set pieces.
Game of Werewolves is definitely a film one should watch with a crowd as the noticeable flaws (in particular the “cheese” factor) will easily be forgiven and forgotten about after many applause-worthy moments. Mainstream viewers may be susceptible to picking apart the nonsensical plot and the lightning fast subtitles, but for those who are feeling nostalgic, Game of Werewolves is a throwback horror film werewolf enthusiasts can take a bite out of.
3 1/2 out of 5