From the first time I heard about the Canadian direct-to-video horror movie Never Cry Werewolf (which premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2008), I knew it was one that I was eventually going to get around to seeing. I just had no idea that I had essentially already seen it, only with a different supernatural monster.
Directed by Brenton Spencer and written by John Sheppard, Never Cry Werewolf owes a huge (and completely unacknowledged) debt to Tom Holland’s 1985 film Fright Night. That film (which received the official remake treatment in 2011) was about a teenage boy who can’t make anyone believe him when a vampire moves in next door. In this film the teenager is a girl and the new neighbor is a werewolf, but otherwise the parallels are unmistakable. There’s even a washed-up television star (played by Roddy McDowell in the original Fright Night and here by Kevin Sorbo) in both that the hero goes to for help. The main difference between them is McDowell is a horror movie host who comes through in the clinch and Sorbo is a self-involved hunter/sportsman who actually gets treed at one point. (No one could ever accuse Sorbo of not having a sense of humor about himself.)
Anyway, enough about Fright Night. What about Never Cry Werewolf? Well, it kicks off with an attack on a registered sex offender (never let it be said that werewolves are too picky about the class of their victims), after which we start to get to know our protagonists. The girl (Nina Dobrev) is a vegetarian who believes something is up almost right away when she finds out their hunky new neighbor (Peter Stebbings) has hair on his palms. Her younger brother (Spencer Van Wyck) is impressed by his Harley, though, and starts hanging out over at his place, helping him with his remodeling. (I’m guessing the sex offender scene may have been added to deflect any speculation that anything else was going on between them.) The other major character is the dorky guy played by Sean O’Neill, who has a huge crush on Dobrev and gets turned into a werewolf by Stebbings in much the same way that the best friend in Fright Night gets corrupted. (Okay, that’s the last Fright Night reference, I promise.)
The lack of originality on display in Never Cry Werewolf would be bad enough, but it’s fairly cheesy to boot. The special effects aren’t very special and the werewolf is mostly shown in extreme closeups or long shots because of how fake it looks when we finally do get a good look at it. It’s also very telling that the big transformation takes place entirely offscreen. Still, it’s amusing that the film makes up its own mythology and then tries to pass it off as common knowledge. (Werewolves travel with demon familiars that take the form of big, black dogs? Really?) The most overwrought part of the story, though, is Stebbings’s belief that Dobrev is the reincarnation of his long lost love, Melissa (who looks like Alyssa Milano in the picture that he carries around with him). Too bad that’s also something that this movie cribbed from Fright Night. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) In the end, the best way not to cry werewolf is not to watch it in the first place.
Next Up: A Syfy double feature that’ll have you seeing red and bayin’ at the moon…