Werewolf (2019)

Director: Adrian Panek

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Starring: Nicolas Przygoda, Kamil Polnisiak, Sonia Mietielica, Werner Daehn, Danuta Stenka, Jakub Syska, Helena Mazur

My review of Werewolf was originally posted at Bloody Good Screen.

 In the summer of 1945, a group of children are liberated from a Nazi concentration camp. In an abandoned mansion, a temporary orphanage is established to look after them, and try to regain what’s left of their childhoods. This isn’t an easy task, though, with their first meal seeing the children ravenously fighting over dog food. Things get worse when the mansion is surrounded by Alsatians, previously released by the SS, who have become feral. 

They may have escaped a horrific piece of human history, but these children aren’t out of the woods just yet. Their circumstances are rather dire, with the attack dogs threatening their lives, while the children struggle to ration, taking it in turns to test anything they find. They’re just trying to survive, but the children’s experiences may have left them a bit feral. At the same time, the dogs are starving, and just doing what they were trained to do. The question becomes, who are the real beasts?

Looking after the children is Hanka, who becomes their guardian, approaching the position with a level head. Alongside her is a child referred to as Kraut, who takes on a proactive role resembling a wannabe action hero. He willingly runs into dangerous scenarios, thinking firstly of his fellow survivors, but could benefit from considering his plans a bit more. Rounding out the main children is Władek, a boy that’s clearly warped by his experiences, and struggling to adapt back to normality. Each of the children are wonderfully portrayed, thanks to a young cast who tremendously bring them to life.

It must be said, you never feel the children are at risk from the dogs. It’s only when adult elements are introduced that you can feel the danger, and those moments doesn’t last for long enough. In spite of this, we do encounter tense moments regularly, while the story unfolds at a measured pace. Writer and director Adrian Panek mixed together Lord of The Flies and Cujo, to deliver a most interesting final product.