Werewolves Within (2021)

Josh Ruben

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, Wayne Duvall, Catherine Curtin, Michaela Watkins, George Basil, Sarah Burns, Michael Chernus, Cheyenne Jackson, Harvey Guillén, Glenn Fleshler, Rebecca Henderson

Released in 2016, Werewolves Within was a VR precursor to Among Us, as a group of players tried to uncover which of them was the enemy in disguise. Writer Mishna Wolff and director Josh Ruben build a film around that claustrophobic uncertainty, set in the small town of Beaverfield. When a snowstorm traps the residents inside a local inn, Forest ranger Fin (Sam Richardson) and postal worker Cecily (Milana Vayntrub) try to maintain peace while uncovering the truth behind a dangerous creature lurking among them.

Serving as the audience's entry point, Fin Wheeler is the new forest ranger who moves towns for his new post. He's somebody inclined to see the good side, endeavouring for others to be more neighbourly while he tries to become more assertive. Sam Richardson does an excellent job in the role, selling the heck out of "heavens to Betsy" and reacting so hilariously to the unfolding madness. What's refreshing is how the characters rising confidence isn't an excuse for nastiness. He's a nice person whose arc is to be happy as himself, not needing to change because others say he should.

Upon arriving, Fin forms a connection with another relative newcomer in postal worker Cecily. Milana Vayntrub is a gem in the role, capturing the sparky personality as easily as the characters deepening frustrations. It's a delight to see her paired with Richardson, as the two share excellent chemistry while growing closer together and chatting about Beaverfield's colourful residents. These neighbours are where the ensemble cast shine, never feeling wasted even if the material misses.

What comes to mind is a comedic try at The Thing, as tensions run high when the wintery climate traps the disparate townsfolk in the same place. Dividing them is the worsening infighting, caused by the proposed gas pipeline. Despite the title, this isn't a film about the titular lycanthrope but how easily fear and paranoia can run rampant within a community. As people turn on each other for the promise of money, the gripping occurrences show how quickly everything can fall apart, leaving the werewolf instances to feel less interesting by comparison. What's left is a fun time which isn't afraid to get grisly, and a high-point among cinematic adaptions of video-games.

Werewolves Within is available on Digital Platforms and DVD from 19th July