Full Moon Features: FANG (2018)

Just as having a sizable budget is no guarantee of making a good werewolf movie, having a miniscule one doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to turn out a bad one. If you make the right creative decisions and spend what little money you have wisely — and make sure your script is good enough to compensate for any shortcomings in the effects department — it’s possible to make a werewolf movie on a shoestring that isn’t a complete embarrassment. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what Adam R. Steigert’s FANG is, which is doubly baffling because it’s not his first feature (which would be understandable), but rather his seventh (with a few shorts thrown in for bad measure).

Based in Buffalo, New York, where FANG (yes, the title is in all caps) had its premiere last October, Steigert has been pumping out low-budget genre flicks at a rapid clip for the past decade, often acting as his own cinematographer and editor in addition to his writing and directing duties, which he frequently shares with others. From the start, he’s set most of his movies in the same fictional town known variously as Metzburg, Metsburg, Metzburgh, or Metsburgh. However it’s spelled, the town figures into FANG since it’s the destination of strung-out junkie Joe (Theo Kemp) and his equally strung-out but not strung-out-looking girlfriend Chloe (Melodie Roehrig), who knows of the proverbial house “in the middle of nowhere” where they can hide out after murdering a stranger for drug money. While walking to Metz/sburg/h, Joe and Chloe encounter Chris and Shelly (Jason John Beebe and Jennie Russo), a bickering couple on their way to a wedding whose vehicle has broken down and who grudgingly tag along with them until they get to Chloe’s relatives’ house, which is when things really start going sideways for all concerned.

For starters, creepy caretaker Harold (second-billed Gregory Blair, whose character’s last name is never spoken, but is listed in the credits as Pinter, an in-joke that makes next to no sense since there’s little about his character that is Pinteresque) informs them they can’t call anyone for help because “The Crowleys don’t really believe in phones.” They do, however, believe in having every door in their house locked at all times, a plot point Steigert immediately bungles because the set of clanking keys Harold carries around are too large to fit the one door we see that has a lock, and none of the others even have keyholes. Since that’s a detail that figures heavily into the script (which Steigert wrote with his wife Kristin), that definitely should have been caught during the location scout.

After the interminable build-up, Doris and Roy Crowley (top-billed Melantha Blackthorne and “and ____ as” Patrick Mallette) arrive on the scene 23 minutes in and proceed to up the eccentricity factor significantly with their mannered performances and theatrical old-age makeup. Once they’ve thoroughly grossed out their reluctant guests during dinner and sequestered Joe in his room — which apparently leads to the basement, where he eventually finds editor Christopher Burns Jr. chained up in his underwear and being force-fed human remains — the Crowleys show their true colors and begin picking the interlopers off. Any viewers hoping to get a good look at their transformed state had better have the pause button handy, though, because they’re the “blink and you’ll miss them” kind of monsters.

Periodically, Steigert cuts away from the Crowley house to the half-assed police investigation of the opening murder, which leads the portly sheriff to consult with retired beat cop and full-time crackpot William Sanders (Michael O’Hear, reprising his role from Steigert’s sophomore feature, 2009’s Gore), who’s remarkably active for someone with stage-three cancer and three months to live. His cancer-rich blood turns out to be a better weapon against the Crowleys than silver bullets, even, although he has to be bitten by one of them for this to be discovered, and anyone who’s seen a werewolf movie before knows what that means. Oh, and did I forget to mention the part where he and Chloe go to Joe’s dealer (whose name, I shit you not, is Christmas Eve) for backup and he just happens to know a guy who knows how to make silver bullets? Yeah, FANG is that kind of movie. It’s also the kind of movie that closes with the message that two of its characters “will return in The Horrific Evil Monsters,” which is currently filming. Based on the evidence of this one, that’s more of a threat than a promise.