I wish Hollywood would get back on the werewolf train and start making more movies in the genre. Seems like all of the studios are concerned more with vampires and zombies at the moment. And while I suppose that’s not a bad thing at all from a horror standpoint, filmmakers still need to show some love to the furry, carnivorous flesh-rippers that tore into our hearts in a big way back in the 80s. As a result of this neglect from big name studios, independent filmmakers have had to take point on bringing us fans lycanthropic goodness. Unfortunately, there’s not much goodness at all to be found with WEREWOLF RISING, the latest film from director BC Furtney.
If you are not familiar with WEREWOLF RISING, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of RLJ Entertainment:
Desperate for a break from big city life, Emma heads to her family’s cabin deep in the Arkansas hills. As she settles in for some much-needed R&R, she learns that something unspeakable lurks in the surrounding darkness. As the full moon rises, a bloodthirsty werewolf emerges from the shadows, slaughtering everyone in its path and revealing a sinister underworld Emma never knew existed. Thrown into a fight for her life, and her very soul, Emma will need to escape these big bad woods before it’s too late.
I really wanted to like this movie, especially because much of it was shot in Arkansas (only about three and a half hours from where I live). Our state is filled with woodlands and mountains, therefore it makes the perfect backdrop for a werewolf tale to unfold. Sadly, the beautiful scenery is the only positive aspect of this film.
WEREWOLF RISING is a low-budget film, and it looks like it in every detail. While this is certainly forgivable in movies where good acting and a solid plot overshadow the budget, neither applies here. As a result, the film looks cheap and suffers drastically because of it.
The film is shot in a decent manner, although the lighting could have been better in a few of the nighttime scenes. The sets are very simple, which is not necessarily a bad thing…however a little more emphasis on eye-pleasing backdrops would have been nice. For example, the house in which Emma resides looks like nothing more than a converted doublewide, and the place conveys a sense of dreariness that is almost depressing.
The acting in WEREWOLF RISING leaves a lot to be desired, although a singular beacon of excellence shines through whenever Bill Oberst Jr. is onscreen. I’ve enjoyed Oberst Jr. in every role he’s played, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Regrettably, he’s only in the film for about 10 minutes. The rest of the cast needs to go back to acting school. They deliver their lines as if reading them for the first time.
The story is supposed to be pretty straightforward, but it never really comes together or goes anywhere. There’s a lot of drama that is supposed to fill the gaps in between the horror, however it quickly becomes stale and moldy. I actually found myself wanting the characters to get killed off so I didn’t have to deal with their emotional baggage anymore.
The special effects are the final nail in the coffin for this film. I was willing to let several of the flaws slide if the werewolf effects were wicked; after all, I always love seeing practical special effects instead of digital. But I was disappointed once again. There’s no makeup involved, just costumes. They are not frightening at all, and they look like nothing more than a guy in a hairy suit. The facial features of these so-called wolves look more like vampire bats than anything, especially when you take into account the long, bat-like ears.
I cannot, in good conscience, recommend WEREWOLF RISING, unless you are looking for a movie to laugh at. I had high hopes for this one, especially since Bill Oberst Jr. was involved, but the film simply falls way below the mark. It hits store shelves today if you want to give it a look.
WEREWOLF RISING Official Trailer