During a chilly October night, the executives at Marvel decided to drop a new spooky holiday surprise onto their adoring fans and Disney+ members. “Werewolf by Night,” a classic black and white slasher with a modern twist, takes up 55 minutes of your time in exchange for some hope for the future of Marvel.
It is no secret that Marvel hit their crescendo with “Avengers: Endgame.” The death of beloved characters, the conclusion of an epic storyline and a monetary record to rival the box-office giant “Avatar,” solidified “Avengers: Endgame” as the end of Marvel’s time in the spotlight.
However, the content continued. Show after show, another movie followed another, all with mixed reviews. Division began to strike through Marvel fans as the excitement and hype began to fizzle and fade. People grew tired of the same old stories and formulas. A character has a problem, they are taught a lesson, there are a few laughs and gags along the way and after a sacrifice of some sort, a CGI battle concludes the movie. So what does this have to do with “Werewolf by Night”? Let me explain.
“Werewolf by Night” follows our two main characters, Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone, in their quest for the legendary Bloodstone relic. The world is quickly introduced as monster hunters are led into the Bloodstone Mansion. Heads of monsters adorn the greyscale walls, ancient décor drapes the rooms in elegance and an animated corpse adds just the right amount of uneasy Halloween humor.
The plot is simple: hunters are released in a maze with a monster, and the one who defeats the monster first wins the Bloodstone. The set-up sounds interesting, and you settle in to watch some high stakes tension and a surprising amount of gore right before the entire premise is twisted. I won’t spoil the film, (I think you should see it for yourself) but I will say that the first half is definitely more interesting than the second half.
Ryan Leston from IGN has this to say: “Gael Garcia Bernal is excellent as Jack, and the dynamic between him and Laura Donnelly (Elsa) warrants further screentime. “Werewolf by Night” may not make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but it will keep you on the edge of your seat with a slow, creeping tone that captures the very best of classic horror.”
I give it a 6/10.
So why does a 6/10 Marvel short feature matter? The significance of this film lies not in its story, or even in its visuals, but in its style. The story mirrors practical effects from the 40s and includes lens distortion and slower pacing. All these point to something new in Marvel — the breaking away from the mold.
As more and more generic superhero movies get pumped out by studios, there needs to be some superhero films that rise above the rest. “Werewolf by Night” is proof that while Marvel is fallible, they recognize that in order to save the future of Marvel, they will need to change.