It’s rare for the full moon to fall on Halloween, as it does this year. This one is also the Hunter’s Moon, which so happens to be the title of a new werewolf movie that came out earlier this year. What a pity, then, that it’s short on scares and suspense and long on irritating characters. Chief among them is Juliet Delaney (Katrina Bowden), daughter of Thomas and Bernice (producer Jay Mohr and Amanda Wyss), who leave Juliet and her two younger sisters alone in the isolated country house the family has just moved into while they go away on a business trip. What their business is eventually becomes clear, as does the reason why they’re not afraid to leave their daughters alone with three local miscreants prowling about and a sheriff (Thomas Jane doing a ludicrous accent) who has a conflict of interest when it comes to upholding the law.
Hunter’s Moon gets off on the wrong foot with a pre-title sequence in which a young woman is drugged by a psycho killer (the prominently billed Sean Patrick Flanery) who buries her in the woods and is immediately taken out by an unseen growling creature. (This is why his house — “the Ellsbury place,” as the locals ominously call it — was on the market for the Delaneys to snap up.) This opening eventually ties in with the main story, but writer/director Michael Caissie takes his time with the reveal, just as he waits until the last ten minutes to show his monster in full and even longer for someone to actually name it. This kind of coyness is to be expected to some extent, but not every werewolf movie needs to be plotted like a mystery for the characters to solve and fewer still should be built around a twist that can be spotted coming a mile away. The alternate title of Hunter’s Moon is The Orchard. I recommend picking something else to watch this Halloween.
That something else shouldn’t necessarily be Hubie Halloween, though. The latest product of Adam Sandler’s ongoing multi-picture deal with Netflix, Hubie is most notable for featuring Steve Buscemi as a lycanthrope, making this the fourth time he’s played one if you count the Hotel Transylvania movies. Here he’s Walter Lambert, the new neighbor of Sandler’s Hubie Dubois, latest in the long line of socially awkward naifs who are too good for this world that he’s played over the years. This incarnation is a lifelong resident of Salem, Massachusetts, where he’s in his element as a lover of all things Halloween, but also the constant butt of people’s jokes. (He even has to dodge a variety of objects thrown at him while he rides around town on his bicycle, one of the film’s few genuinely amusing running jokes.)
After his introduction, Walter tells Hubie that if he should ever hear strange noises coming from next door not to investigate, setting up the scene later on when Hubie does just that and finds evidence of Walter locking himself in his basement — as well as a feral-looking Walter himself. Before that, he’s also been seen boarding up his windows and doors and piling furniture up against the front door as the full moon (which falls on Halloween, naturally) approaches. After his escape from the basement, Hubie next encounters Walter in the woods, where his sole sign of physical transformation is his extremely hairy arms. Those expecting him to completely wolf out will come away as disappointed as I was.