Directed by Michael Giacchino — Screenplay by Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron.
Since the launch of Disney+, Marvel Studios has pumped out a plethora of straight-to-streaming series. It has, honestly, been a little bit overwhelming at times, and not all of the shows are equally good. One of the things that excited me about this streaming service, and the potential for Marvel Studios on it, was the general idea that this gave Marvel an opportunity to break from their formula and try new things. To give examples, Marvel has done that somewhat with Ms Marvel but also with She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, which is this sitcom that doesn’t take the overall universe as seriously as most of the Marvel films do. With Werewolf By Night, Marvel Studios has released their first so-called ‘special presentation.’ This is essentially a Halloween special just like how we know a Christmas special is coming down the line from James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy cast. And think outside of the box they certainly have, as Marvel Studios have hired their frequent composer Michael Giacchino to direct for them on the streaming service. and this special presentation proves that if they need a director for a future feature-length theatrical project, then Michael Giacchino could very well be their guy. Werewolf by Night is surprisingly good.
Michael Giacchino’s Werewolf By Night follows Jack Russell (played by Gael García Bernal), a quiet and mysterious monster hunter who, along with other accomplished monster hunters, has been summoned by the widow of Ulysses Bloodstone, a recently deceased monster hunter, for the purpose of having them compete in a monster hunting contest to determine who shall go on to wield Ulysses’ famous and magical red gem, ‘the bloodstone.’ But Russell isn’t there for the bloodstone, rather he is there to break out the monster that they’ll be hunting.
Werewolf By Night doubles as a fun Halloween special presentation and a good-intentioned tribute to Universal Classic Monsters and similar horror films from the 1930s and 1940s, and I think it really works as it has both appropriate music (the score was composed by director Michael Giacchino) and an appropriate black-and-white look. Now, obviously, it isn’t exactly that kind of film, and, naturally, you can tell (even though they do try to pay respect to those aforementioned films) as the action has that Marvel feel, but select sequences do break away from the tried and true Marvel formula. To add to that, modern visual effects bring a monster to live, with the Man-Thing sticking out like a sore thumb in every black-and-white shot he appears in. However, I thought the look and practical effects of the titular werewolf were really well done.
I think this brisk Marvel horror spin-off (its runtime is just over 50 minutes) is refreshing due to the way it clearly changes things up stylistically. Werewolf By Night is a brisk and slight but very fun and entertaining hour of Marvel horror comedy. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of meat on the bone in terms of character depth (the ‘film’ doesn’t really have a lot of time for that), but for a special presentation it is remarkably accomplished. I think it could’ve easily been a theatrical release if it were longer. I’m genuinely surprised by how much I loved this. It has no right being this good. So, Marvel, when are we getting your monster-led Dark Universe? Do tell, because this genre-exercise definitely worked.
7.9 out of 10
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.