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Disney+ Review: Werewolf by Night

October 6, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Composer Michael Giacchino makes the switch to directing with the 52 minute Marvel Halloween special Werewolf by Night, a black-and-white tribute to the classic Universal monster movies that serves as a breath of fresh air in a slightly stagnant MCU.

The special (which may as well begin with “it was a dark and stormy night”) centres around a shadowy meeting of monster hunters at the gloomy Bloodstone Temple, who have gathered for the funeral of their former leader, Ulysses Bloodstone.

The night involves a competition to see who will control the powerful Bloodstone, forcing the guests to hunt each other and face off with a mysterious monster. Among the guests is Ulysses’ daughter Elsa (Laura Donnelly), who insists on being included in the competition, as well as our hero Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal).

First and foremost, Werewolf by Night is the most visually and stylistically interesting thing that Marvel has done in quite some time. Giacchino (who also scores the project!) shows a ton of promise behind the camera, crafting a sincere tribute to the horror movies of the 1930s and ’40s that knows exactly what it is trying to be. Working with cinematographer Zoë White, who also offers some nice compositions and fluid camera movements, to shoot digitally in black and white (complete with fake flickers and cigarette burns), Giacchino nails the creepy but fun vibe of the special.

While the story and characters feel a bit underdeveloped at less than an hour, Werewolf by Night works surprisingly well within these confines as a one-off special (though it will no doubt tie into the MCU’s larger narrative in some way in the future). The cheesier moments and jokes can be forgiven, as this is essentially B-movie homage. It’s also surprisingly gnarly, with the monochrome imagery allowing them to get away with more extreme violence and actually show some blood (here’s hoping Marvel’s upcoming Blade will follow in this vein).

This is something a little different for the Marvel Cinematic Universe with them dabbling in horror for the first time, and it serves as a more than welcome change of pace, offering a potentially exciting new path for the franchise. And it’s an enjoyable Halloween special, to boot.

Werewolf by Night will be available to stream exclusively on Disney+ as of October 7th.

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