The Oscar Project Reviews
A fun stylized look into a lesser-known corner of the Marvel world, Werewolf by Night delivers action, new friendships, and plenty of creepy monsters, just in time for Halloween.
I went into this fairly blind, not knowing any of the backstory to these characters from the comics and without even seeing any trailers or imagery aside from the poster and splash page in Disney+. I’m sure there were some subtle details that I missed, but having the Marvel name on it and the logo at the beginning, I expected a bit more in the way of defined connection to the MCU. Now, I understand that not everything with the Marvel name on it is required to connect to the MCU, but based on the release strategy of the last decade and a half, this felt like an outlier. Perhaps we will see more connections later on, especially with films like Blade coming into the MCU.
The film was short at only 52 minutes and actually listed as a TV special on sites like IMDb. Gael García Bernal takes the lead as Jack Russell, a monster hunter who ultimately transitions into a werewolf himself. Laura Donnelly plays opposite as Elsa Bloodstone, a fellow monster hunter and daughter of the late Ulysses Bloodstone. I was a bit underwhelmed by Jack’s role, but thought Elsa stole much of the show. For their small parts, Harriet Sansom Harris’s Verussa Bloodstone (Ulysses wife) was splendid as was Kirk R. Thatcher as the Scottish monster hunter Jovan.
I mentioned earlier that there wasn’t much connection to the greater Marvel universe at the moment, but I did make one connection of the visual style to that of the Disney+ series WandaVision. The entire film is done in black and white, with the exception of the bloodstone itself which appears red. This is also a callback to Schindler’s List (affiliate link) which used a similar black and white technique with the only color element being the red coat of a young girl. WandaVision and Werewolf by Night both also use a transitional technique where the film resolves to color at a certain point when the actions allows for it.
The additional visual elements in the film are likely ripe for data mining by YouTubers and fans in the vast Marvel online community. There are plenty of monsters created for the film along with murals and carvings in the Bloodstone mansion, many of which probably have a connection to things I’m not familiar with yet. I will be interested to see what connections come from these elements in the background that most people will miss.
In the final assessment, I was a bit disappointed with this initial Marvel Studios Special Presentation. I think the format has potential but needs to be better marketed. It also needs to decide if it will be an offshoot of the MCU, or if it will be something that runs alongside the MCU but doesn’t necessarily make those official connections.
6 out of 10