For my final Full Moon Feature of the year, I went with what promised to be the werewolf movie event of 2012 — Universal’s Werewolf: The Beast Among Us. Supposedly an offshoot of The Wolfman (although there’s no real connection between them as far as I can tell), the film takes place in a world where the existence of werewolves and other creatures of the night is taken as a given, which saves a lot of time and unnecessary dickering around. It’s also a world with enough of a werewolf problem that it can support teams of professional werewolf hunters, with one particularly colorful crew headed up by top-billed Ed Quinn, whose backstory involves bearing witness to his mother and father getting batted around by an enormous beast when he was a wee lad, but not before having a wolf-headed family heirloom passed on to him.
Twenty-five years later, Quinn and company are summoned to a remote village where they encounter a foe of unusual intelligence and a whole array of potential suspects. They’re also dogged by an overeager doctor’s assistant (Guy Wilson), who has to offer his services three times before Quinn finally relents, over the objection of his preening second-in-command (Adam Croasdell). For his part, Wilson is a constant worry to his gypsy mother (Nia Peeples), sneaking off to meet up with his rich girlfriend (Rachel Katherine DiPillo) — whose trigger-happy father doesn’t exactly approve of him — whenever he isn’t needed by the doctor (Stephen Rea, appearing in his second werewolf movie in one year), who’s grown distressingly accustomed to putting down the survivors of the werewolf’s attacks. (Seems if this isn’t done soon enough, they turn into wurdaleks, although the film never actually bothers to explain what a wurdalek is. All we know is that you don’t want them hanging around.) Steven Bauer rounds out the cast as the boastful huntsman with an eye patch and the one story about how he got it that he trots out in every town they visit.
Given its direct-to-video budget, it’s a wonder Werewolf: The Beast Among Us is as watchable as it is, what with its Renaissance-Fair-crossed-with-the-Old-West costumes and Van Helsing-like weaponry. As for the plot, director Louis Morneau and his co-writers toe the line between painfully generic (pretty much any scene between Wilson and DiPillo is a waste of time) and bizarrely specific (e.g. Rea’s determination to send Wilson off to medical school). They even find a way to tie the whole thing to the winter solstice, which is when we get our most sustained look at the title creature, which goes back and forth between being an entirely digital creation and a stunt man in a suit. It fails to sustain a consistent look, though, which is the most basic thing you can ask for. If there’s a sequel — as the open ending suggests there could be — maybe they’ll manage to hammer that out.