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WEREWOLF BY NIGHT (2022)  l  Disney+  |  Oct 7, 2022  | 

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Laura Donnelly

Director: Michael Giacchino

On a dark and somber night, a secret cabal of monster hunters emerge from the shadows and gather at the foreboding Bloodstone Temple following the death of their leader. In a strange and macabre memorial to the leader’s life, the attendees are thrust into a mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic—a hunt that will ultimately bring them face to face with a dangerous monster. Inspired by horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, the chilling special aims to evoke a sense of dread and the macabre, with plenty of suspense and scares along the way as we explore a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus

Werewolf by Night is a marvelous ode to the creature horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, that under the outstanding direction acclaimed composer Michael Giacchino is one of the most unique and exciting projects to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

 

The MCU has been slowly creeping into the horror genre between Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Blade’s appearance in the post credit scene of Eternals, teasing his big screen debut. And with their latest project, debuting on Disney+ this Friday, we get another entry into the horror genre that fully taps into an area of the MCU that has largely remained untouched to date. This Halloween special follows a group of monster hunters that have been gathered to hunt down a monster, with the successful hunter being rewarded a powerful relic from the Bloodstone estate. 

 

Clocking in at just under an hour, there is not a ton of time to meet all the characters as we are plunged into the action right away. While this could work against the story development, it actually creates an atmosphere of mystery as the audience is unsure what monster is being hunted or which hunters can be trusted. It sets the audience up to be startled as the action and monster attacks begin to happen. 

 

Unlike most Marvel properties which have been very family friendly, this entry has intense violence and gore that matches the darker roots of the comics and films it is emulating. The violence itself is more in line as to what Marvel fans were expecting from Moonknight earlier this year, delivering some truly jaw dropping fight sequences that lays the groundwork for Blade to follow in its footsteps. It creates a thrilling experience from start to finish that shows that even when dealing with a darker tone that Marvel still knows how to make a crowd pleasing experience for audiences. 

 

Though, it is the direction of Giacchino that ties the darker tone and the excitement of a Marvel project together. Shot in black and white, Giacchino emulates horror films of the 1930s and 1940s such as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolfman with the aesthetics of the film. The black and white photography creates an uneasy feeling as to what is lurking in the shadows, while also stylizing the violence and gore to ensure that it never feels out of place. The monster designs are great, utilizing lots of practical effects that look great with the black and white cinematography, rather than CGI which could look less realistic in colour cinematography. Giacchino captures the excitement and darkness in every frame, showcasing that he is a truly great director. It truly is outstanding that this is his directorial debut, because it feels like it has been directed by a seasoned, veteran direction. 

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Though, it is Giacchino’s musical score which shines brightest in the special. From the opening notes, Giacchino creates a hypnotic soundscape that mixes the wonder of a Marvel property and the fear the audience experiences throughout the special to create what is easily one of the most memorable scores of any Marvel project to date. 

 

Performance wise, both Gael García Bernal and Laura Donnelly make terrific leads. They both craft performances that make you feel like you know everything you need to know about their characters despite having little introduction to them. They are both fierce, outstanding in the action sequences, creating two heroes that fit perfectly into the tone of the larger MCU and this specific stylized world of monster hunters. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of them in the MCU, because I would happily watch hours more of both Bernal and Donnelly in these roles. Beautifully shot with an intensity that delivers incredible action and creepy moments under great direction from Michael Giacchino that captures the horror films of generations ago, all bolstered by an outstanding musical score, Werewolf by Night is another great addition to the ever growing and expanding MCU that proves that there are still tons of exciting stories to tell in this universe.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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