Werewolf By Night [Review]

I’ve waited for a true horror project to be released in the MCU for a while. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was supposed to be that, but Scott Derrickson left, and Sam Raimi took over. I love Raimi, but I don’t love the film, primarily because Marvel didn’t want to commit to the original vision. Instead, they brought Raimi to give a movie that appeals to the general audience with minor horror flourishes. Instead of risking a feature-length horror project, we got a “Special Presentation.” Since it seems that Kevin Feige and his team figured out the joy and beauty of “traditional tv” (Ms. Marvel & She-Hulk), it appears that he’s dipping his feet into having other traditional programming, such as their first TV movie.

Werewolf by Night is directed and scored by Michael Giacchino. Yes, that Michael Giacchino, the one behind so many brilliant and iconic film scores. He truly understands the genre he’s working in and follows the rules of the aesthetic to a tee. He did an incredible job.

After the leader of a secret group of monster hunters dies (one of the most “comic” sentences I’ve written about the MCU in a long time), the team meets up for a competition involving a dangerous monster. The film stars the always incredible Gael Garcia Bernal as Jack Russell. Russell is one of the hunters, but he also might be a different monster at the same event. 

Laura Donnelly as Elsa Bloodstone in Marvel Studios’ WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL

While the plot isn’t entirely fascinating (ironic considering it’s an adaptation), it’s less about the story and more about the aesthetic: crisp black-and-white visuals and incredible light usage. Yes, style over substance can be a negative, but sometimes it’s the perfect companion to elevate lesser moments. The visuals are drastically different than the typical MCU blocking and formula. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Not the same breath of fresh air as Ms. Marvel was, but one for more genre content. Trying something different These films are more appealing when it’s not visual noise but it tries to be a heist or a political thriller. Give us a musical, you cowards. 

Ulysses Bloodstone in Marvel Studios’ WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Gael is great in the film, but the film is merely 52 minutes, so he’s not given nearly enough to do. And the film ends too early. I could have enjoyed another hour and I hope to get shows and movies like this in the MCU. 

Werewolf by Night will be huge in the future, giving us the gateway into thematically darker and scarier worlds in the MCU. What hero will star in the MCU’s first slasher? If Kevin Feige learns to create good horror content, he will be unstoppable.