‘Werewolf By Night’: Bloody Brilliant

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

“Werewolf By Night” has been something that is on my radar for a while but I wouldn’t say I was particularly interested in it. A full TV special about an offshoot Moonknight villain never sounded particularly appealing to me.

Boy, was I wrong though. Not only is it the best thing Marvel has made for Disney+, but it’s also the best project Marvel Studios has released all year.

Serving as the directorial debut of Micheal Giacchino, composer of the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, “The Batman”, and numerous Pixar movies, “Werewolf by Night” is one of the most refreshing and unique MCU projects to date.

It follows a group of bounty hunters competing against each other to kill a monster in order to get the magical Bloodstone. This is a simple premise sure but the show does an incredible job of establishing its horror-inspired atmosphere.

It’s in the vein of some of the old Universal monster movies and it mostly is able to replicate their atmosphere. I also am happy that the film was explicitly designed to be filmed in black and white. Many movies tend to struggle to have a black-and-white filter if they aren’t filmed to have it. It’s clear through the stage design, lighting, and direction that they didn’t just slap a filter on the screen and be done with it.

I will say, however, that I do wish this was shot on actual film rather than a digital camera with film grain added in post-production. That would have added to the authentic atmosphere a lot more since it’s inspired by monster movies from the 50s and 60s.

I also think some of the audio could use some tweaking so that it sounds more authentic to the original Hollywood productions.

Regardless though those are the only major issues I have. 

Right from the start, the show knows exactly what it is and exactly what it wants to achieve. It’s essentially just a short 40-minute vignette, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It doesn’t become tied up with grand plots and messy finales; it’s just a self-contained little story to introduce the more supernatural and horror-style part of the Marvel Universe.

Everyone delivers great performances here, but the two leads, Laura Donnelly as Elsa Bloodstone and Gael García Bernal as Jack Russell, steal the show as they both have excellent introductions as compared to their comic counterparts.

A lot of times short films or stories have a hard time juggling character and plot. Thankfully, “Werewolf by Night” avoids this issue entirely. In under an hour, it manages to get me wholly invested in its characters and story through highly effective and efficient drops of information and storytelling. There are no long explanations or monologues about these characters’ backstories. They just give you the information you need to get invested and understand what each character is about.

This film absolutely nails the horror aspects, and it feels like the crew truly cared about replicating the old-school horror aesthetics similar to how “Wandavision” was for sitcoms.

Now don’t expect to be squirming in your seat or anything. It’s not trying to necessarily scare the viewer; it just has a creepier tone when compared to other Marvel productions.

One thing that was surprising though was that there is a ton of blood here when compared to other Marvel projects, so it seems the black-and-white filter allowed them to get away with having more gore.

While I will admit Marvel has indeed been experimenting more and trying new things, this is the first time I can confidently say that Marvel has truly stuck the landing with one of these more experimental projects. Most of the time these more experimental projects come with a huge asterisk because they almost always fall into the same Marvel tropes and lazy storytelling.

They almost always have plots that try to be more important than they need to be with poor pacing and an overstuffed finale that prioritizes bombastic action over proper character development. With “Werewolf by Night” it feels refreshing that it doesn’t fall into any of the typical MCU downfalls.

If you’re looking for a fun and short Halloween special to turn on for the spooky season, I highly recommend “Werewolf by Night” because it’s hands down the best Marvel project of 2022.

Score: 8/10