Werewolves Within is a 2021 American comedy horror film directed by Josh Ruben from a screenplay by Mishna Wolff, based on the video game of the same name from Red Storm Entertainment. It stars Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillén, Rebecca Henderson, Cheyenne Jackson, Michaela Watkins, and Glenn Fleshler, and follows a group of people in a small Vermont town who get trapped in a snowstorm only to suspect one of them is a werewolf.
|Directed by||Josh Ruben|
|Written by||Mishna Wolff|
|Based on||Werewolves Within|
by Red Storm Entertainment
|Edited by||Brett W. Bachman|
|Music by||Anna Drubich|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
Plans for a Werewolves Within film adaptation began in October 2018, with Wolff writing the script and Ubisoft Motion Pictures producing it. Cast was announced in early 2020 and principal photography began in February 2020.
Werewolves Within had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 16, 2021, and began a limited theatrical release in the United States on June 25, 2021, followed by video on demand on July 2, by IFC Films. The film received positive reviews from critics, and holds the highest-rated critic scores based on a video game on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.
Forest ranger Finn Wheeler is assigned to cover Beaverfield, a small town where the residents are divided over a pipeline proposed by businessman Sam Parker. Upon arriving, Finn befriends mail carrier Cecily Moore while also meeting Trisha Anderson and her unfaithful husband Pete, wealthy couple Devon and Joaquim Wolfson, blue collar workers Gwen and Marcus, and isolationist Emerson Flint. That night, a blizzard knocks out all power in Beaverfield, forcing the residents to take refuge in an lodge owned by Jeanine Sherman. The power outage occurs right before Trisha's dog is killed by an unknown assailant, which increases tensions in the town. Further conflict arises when Finn discovers that all of Beaverfield's generators were sabotaged and the body of Jeanine's missing husband Dave is underneath the lodge's porch.
The residents attempt to barricade themselves in the lodge for safety, but Pete has his hand bitten off by the same unknown assailant. Environmentalist Dr. Jane Ellis, an opponent of the pipeline, concludes that the assailant is a werewolf who is one of the lodge's current inhabitants. After announcing her findings, Dr. Ellis dies in front of Parker under ambiguous circumstances; Parker claims she committed suicide.
Those remaining in the lodge initially consider staying together to force the assailant out of hiding, but ultimately all but Finn and Cecily leave for their homes. However, with tensions having reached a boiling point in Beaverfield, the residents begin to kill each other. After nearly all the townsfolk are killed, Finn is attacked by Parker, who claims Finn is the werewolf because he worked in locations where previous attacks occurred. Finn counters that there is no werewolf and Parker is responsible for the paranoia gripping Beaverfield. Parker gains the upper hand against Finn, but a dying Joaquim manages to kill him.
While Finn and Cecily recuperate in the town's bar, Finn learns that Dave was Beaverfield's previous mail carrier. He then realizes that Cecily is the werewolf. Confronted by Finn, Cecily acknowledges that she turned the residents against each other to make feasting on them easier. She subsequently attempts to kill Finn in her werewolf form, but Finn defeats her with the help of Emerson. Still alive, Cecily makes a final effort to attack Finn and Emerson before Jeanine finishes her off with a crossbow.
- Sam Richardson as Finn Wheeler
- Milana Vayntrub as Cecily Moore
- Wayne Duvall as Sam Parker
- Catherine Curtin as Jeanine Sherman
- Michaela Watkins as Trisha Anderton
- George Basil as Marcus
- Sarah Burns as Gwen
- Michael Chernus as Pete Anderton
- Cheyenne Jackson as Devon Wolfson
- Harvey Guillén as Joaquim Wolfson
- Glenn Fleshler as Emerson Flint
- Rebecca Henderson as Dr. Jane Ellis
- Patrick M. Walsh as Dave Sherman
- Anni Krueger as Charlotte
In October 2018, it was announced Werewolves Within was being developed as a feature film, with Mishna Wolff set to write the screenplay for the film, while Ubisoft Motion Pictures would produce. Director Josh Ruben joined after his first feature film, Scare Me, got the attention of Ubisoft, who provided him with "a V.R. thing to play [the game]," he said. In January 2020, it was announced Sam Richardson had joined the cast of the film and would serve as a producer, with Josh Ruben to direct. In February 2020, Michael Chernus, Michaela Watkins, Cheyenne Jackson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Catherine Curtin, Wayne Duvall, Harvey Guillén and Rebecca Henderson joined the cast of the film.
Principal photography began on February 3, 2020. While the videogame is set in a medieval village, the movie is set in the modern day and was shot in New York State's Hudson Valley, near the town of Woodstock. Locations included Main Street in Phoenicia, New York, and The Phoenicia Belle bed-and-breakfast, plus Cooper Lake, and The Golden Notebook bookstore in Woodstock. The historic Fleischmanns Yeast family estate, now the retreat center, Spillian, in Fleischmanns, New York, served as the Beaverfield Inn, and as production headquarters.
Ruben said the film's low budget prevented it from being able to afford to license the U.S. Postal Service logo, resulting in cast-member Milana Vayntrub playing a postal worker for the "'National Mail Service' or something." He also explained that the cast's wardrobe was deliberately exaggerated: "I wanted the wardrobes to look like they might get turned into action figures. Someday, someone may want to dress up as these characters for Halloween."
After IFC Films acquired distribution rights to the film, Werewolves Within had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June 2021. The film received a limited release on June 25, 2021, followed by video on demand on July 2, 2021.
The film was domestic box office in $575,783 and International territories in $361,707 on the box office becoming a total of $937,450.
In North America, Werewolves Within was released along with F9 and it opened in 270 theaters on its opening weekend and grossed $250,811. In its second weekend it made $115,250 from 209 theaters; it was also the most-rented film on the iTunes Store's independent, horror, and comedy charts.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film reports an approval rating of 85% based on 137 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Werewolves Within is the rare horror comedy that offers equal helpings of either genre -- and adds up to a whole lot of fun in the bargain." According to Metacritic, which assigned a weighted average score of 66 out of 100 based on 17 critics, the film received "generally favorable reviews". It is the highest-rated film based on a video game.
Variety said that "despite all the severed, bloody body parts ... Werewolves Within is more playfully thrilling than scary in tone" and that the screenwriter "fashions all her characters with memorable attributes and plenty of social observations, yielding a compelling range of suspects none of which you can write off entirely." The L.A. Times called it "[b]oth funny and snappy," and that its "catchy concept is made even more entertaining by a cast of accomplished comic actors." But, it said, there was "an overall lack of urgency or danger, related to the comedic tone. Because the characters are a bit silly, it's hard to become too invested in whether or not they get disemboweled."
Calling the movie "Clue with werewolves," The A.V. Club said Ruben's "sensibilities shine lunar bright through the way the film privileges collisions of personality in contained spaces over creature-feature thrills."
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