Werewolf by Night sees the MCU baring its fangs in creative and bloody fashion.
WRITTEN BY JACK RANSOM / OCTOBER 11, 2022
After glimpsing into the horror heavy potential of the MCU in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the first fully fledged spooktacular outing arrives as a TV special. Werewolf by Night sees a lycanthropic superhero (Gael García Bernal) who fights evil using the abilities given to him by a curse brought on by his bloodline.
I am a huge fan of Marvel’s supernatural and horror comic book outings from back in the day (e.g. Tower of Shadows, Nightstalkers, The Midnight Sons, The Frankenstein Monster…) and of course more recognisable characters such as Ghost Rider & Blade. After the disappointment that was Moon Knight, a show absolutely ripe for horror potential, I was overjoyed when the gloriously retro and obscure Werewolf by Night teaser was unleashed just in time for Halloween.
As this is a TV movie/special it clocks in at just under 55 minutes long, which is really the only substantial negative I have towards the project as I wish it could have been feature length to allow more exploration of the world of the Bloodstone’s and to allow for more character investment outside of Jack (Bernal), Elsa (Laura Donnelly) and Mr. Man-Thing himself. That being said, having the feature just be a one-location, hunt showdown is perfectly suited for this length and is refreshingly standalone with no excess post-credits, cameos and loose threads to be tied.
The stylistic choices on display are fantastic and the choice to replicate the classic Universal Classic Monsters aesthetic was a glorious choice. Adding film grain, flickering and cue marks to capture the essence of the 30’s & 40’s. As well as this, the emphasis on practical effect work (with both the titular Lycan and Man-Thing utilising this) and campy cheesiness is very much welcome. This is Michael Giacchino’s (composer for The Batman, Rogue One, the MCU Spider-Man trilogy and many more) first directorial outing and he does a very solid job. The action is captured impressively (with a refreshing amount of gory splatter) and there are several standout shots and camera work (I love the slow zoom in on Elsa’s reaction as Jack transforms in the background). Of course, Giacchino’s fitting gothic and grandiose score is impressive and fits appropriately.
Bernal’s wide-eyed, twitchy and quirk Russell is a likeable presence that I look forward to hopefully seeing more of in the future. Combined with Laura Donnelly’s snarky, embittered and badass Elsa Bloodstone, they make for a great pairing. The rest of the hunters are charismatic and have their own distinct approach to combat and family head Verussa is played appropriately deviously by Harriet Sansom Harris.
Werewolf by Night sees the MCU baring its fangs in creative and bloody fashion. The action is schlocky fun, the campy tone allows for some of the familiar franchise humour to slip through the cracks without distraction and Giacchino’s direction is strong. Hopefully next time we get a feature length outing so that these characters and this world can be explored even further.