So, this is an interesting title that floated completely under the radar between 2021's 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City'. You've probably heard of both of those, but this? Even the game it's based on is pretty obscure - a virtual game meant for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. And when we say the movie is based on the game, it would appear that the basis is extremely loose.
In the game (from research), a medieval town is under attack by a werewolf. Players have to guess which of the townsfolk is the werewolf in disguise, and the format is "Mafia-style" - in other words, those party games where one person is the bad guy, and everyone has to guess who it is. The film seems to be pretty much the same idea (a lot like 'The Thing') for the most part, but plays on the comedy elements of each character as opposed to making things a straight up horror mystery. And honestly - it's good!
Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson) has been assigned to the small, fictional town of Beaversfield, where he meets a friendly mail carrier named Cecily Moore (Milana Vayntrub), and they become friends. Many of the rest of the townsfolk are divided about a pipeline that has been proposed by a businessman named Sam Parker (Wayne Duvall), and we meet some of these characters in the forms of Trisha Anderson (Michaela Watkins) and her husband Pete (Michael Chernus), wealthy gay couple Devon (Cheyenne Jackson) and Joaquim Wolfson (Harvey Guillén), general rednecks Gwen (Sarah Burns) and Marcus (George Basil), and Emerson Flint (Glenn Fleshler), who pretty much keeps to himself.
A blizzard takes out the power of Beaversfield, which makes the residents seek shelter in a lodge owned by the kindly Jeanine Sherman (Catherine Curtin). That night, the oddball group of residents that have been huddled together, start to experience a few strange occurrences, that ultimately puts them up against some sort of unknown creature. Eventually, as the title would suggest, evidence points to the attacker being a werewolf (spoiler alert?), based on the findings of local environmentalist, and pipeline protestor, Dr. Jane Ellis (Rebecca Henderson). So, much of the film is a bit of a "bottle" situation that makes me think 'Night of the Living Dead' mixed with 'The Thing', but comedy is the inherent genre as opposed to suspense, horror, or anything else.
This is another good example of a film that basically knows what it is. This was done for fun more than anything, and I'm actually very happy that I caught it, as it exists between two much bigger titles. Perhaps most surprising of all was that I didn't have to dig to deep, as it currently resides on Netflix (Canada). So, putting the video game aspect of things aside, I might just suggest this as a solid comedy flick that you don't have to think too much about. I feel like we need more video game movies that don't take themselves too seriously. The idea that this was a comedy/horror of sorts lets the viewer know that it's not there for any big reason (awards, money, etc.), and it just wants to have fun with its would-be fans.
This one comes to us from director Josh Ruben - a name synonymous with "College Humour", and first-project writer Mishna Wolff, who I'm definitely keeping an eye on. Wolff's writing here got me laughing pretty genuinely a few times, and I feel like when it comes to direction, the "College Humour" aspect of Ruben is all I really need to point out. I'd like to see these two collaborate on more in the future; especially with titles like these video games that float under the radar. They took the basic concept of the game, put it into the movie, and despite whatever changed, it still works! So, if you have Netflix, I definitely recommend giving it a watch. There's a little giggle in here for just about everyone (even if I am a bit comedy/horror biased).