Monday, April 29, 2019
RECENT WATCHES: The Howling: Reborn (2011)
The Howling: Reborn” would tear its way onto DVD shelves in 2011. After over a decade of hibernation, did the “Howling” franchise show any appreciable improvement?
“Reborn” claims to be adapted from Gray Brandner's second “Howling” novel but, in the proud tradition of this series, has nothing to do with any of the previous “Howling” movies. This film focuses in on Will Kidman, a teenager about to graduate high school, whose mother mysteriously disappeared after he was born. Will is bullied at school, has few friends, and is ignored by the girl he likes. Yet fate tosses him and Eliana together anyway. While at a party, he's pursued by a hairy beast. His dad is seduced by a strange woman. Weird shirtless dudes start to hassle Will at school. It turns out he's being chased by werewolves, including his absent mom, on account of being a lycanthrope himself. Will and Eliana are trapped in the school after hours and must fight against the creatures to survive.
Twilight,” with a little “Harry Potter” thrown in too. (Will even wears similarly nerdy glasses.) Because the audience for Y.A. fiction and cheap eighties werewolf movies clearly has a lot of overlap.
In its own way, “Reborn” is just as cheap and ugly as the worst of the eighties “Howling” sequels. The film attempts to replicate the visual palette of “Twilight' as well. So all the scenario has a washed-out and gray color to it. There's a number of very unimpressive slow motion shots, usually to emphasize the underwhelming power of the werewolf. Most embarrassingly, an incredibly obvious dummy is even tossed down a staircase in one scene. The film's emulation of “Twilight” and its disciples extends to the soundtrack, which is full of groan-worthy covers of established pop/rock hits. An dreary, acoustic version of “Don't Fear the Reaper” is especially ear-splitting.
As disconnected with the rest of “The Howling” series as it is, “Reborn” does maintain the sequel tradition of not having nearly enough werewolf action. The wolves largely stay in their hunky-shirtless-guy forms until about the last half-hour. At that point, they transform into brown ape-like creatures that paw at their intended victims. Will, his mom, and a few other characters turn into uninspired werewolf designs near the end. At least, I think the designs are uninspired. In the werewolf fight that follows, the camera never fucking stops moving, making it impossible to get a good look at the beasties. One can only assume that this obnoxious stylistic quirk was an intentional choice to cover up some subpar effects.
“Reborn” did not spawn the further sequels it clearly was hoping for. But don't think for a minute the misbegotten “Howling” series is truly dead, because now some damned soul is trying to get a remake off the ground. If that ever enters production, it'll have to work to be as mercenary and soulless as “The Howling: Reborn.” [3/10]