I imagine the basic goal of popular cinema hasn’t changed all that much over the years, that being to cater to the current demographic so they will come off of their wallets and give you their money. When I was fourteen my older brother took me to see director Joe Dante’s ‘The Howling’ which was a fast moving action film filled with gore, violence and nudity as I remember it. Apparently the demographic back then liked that kind of thing, and as a member of that demographic at the time, I remember loving that movie. Today, thirty years later, we’re watching director Joe Nimziki’s reboot in ‘The Howling: Reborn’ which is slow moving, overly verbose, and has a centerpiece of teenagers incessantly whining about how lousy their lives are. Apparently today’s demographic likes this kind of thing.
Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) has just turned eighteen. Will narrates for us in this movie, and I know this is a bad thing, but soon into this movie every time Will’s voiceover began, which was often, I think I tuned him out. He was probably saying some really important stuff, but words of wisdom from a high school senior just isn’t something I’m all that interested in listening to. Will’s mom died in a fire while pregnant with him, fortunately he was saved obviously, and he is being raised by his EXTREMELY depressing father. The death of Will’s mother was in this movie’s opening scene, and I guess she was killed by a tribe of werewolves? I guess? But then as the movie plays out that scenario doesn’t make any sense so I don’t know why that really went down. All the more reason I should’ve been listening to Will’s banal narration I imagine.
Will’s a typical movie high school boy, misunderstood, picked on, has a goofy best friend, and a girl he loves that he won’t talk to. But this girl Elaina (Lindsey Shaw), she seems to know some things about Will that Will doesn’t even know about himself. Then there’s the strange woman that walks up to Will out of the blue to comfort him (Ivana Milicevic). What’s her deal? I bet she’s a werewolf. I betcha!
Then things get even stranger for Will when he shows up at a wacky rave at his schools basement, invited by Elaina, and he swears that he was attacked by a werewolf. You know what Will needs? He needs some werewolf exposition is what he needs, and that would
be his goofy friend who not only has an intimate knowledge of all things werewolf, admittedly a lot of this knowledge most anybody who’s ever seen a single werewolf movie should know, but he also does a lot of stuff that we know full well will come in handy down the line. Like setup a live video feed that’s going interrupt the regular programming of whatever city this is, so he can show his awesome werewolf movie.
Armed with basic werewolf knowledge, Will is beginning to think he just might be a werewolf himself. This is confirmed when that strange woman pops in again to hit him with the heavy stuff, and also pile onto Will’s father crap life. Seriously, this old dude can’t catch a break. But I guess the demographic likes to see parental figures suffer horribly as well.
I guess I should mention that this particular high school has a lock down function more secure than Alcatraz. This is relevant because Will and the girl he loves will be locked in this school with that strange woman and her three boy band werewolves, and they have a plan. Blue moon is coming, werewolves are coming out, and the genetic pecking order of the world is about to be irreversibly altered. Unless Will and his girl can do something about it, against a backdrop of an incessant flow of musical numbers that I guess this demographic must find appealing.
So… I didn’t care for the ‘Howling: Reborn’, and I’ll even forgive the insane gaps in logic littering this film. Such as a school with sliding metal doors and titanium windows for security, but a school that has no metal detectors so kids can walk in with fully loaded pistols. Or a school so hardcore when a student is found murdered, nobody gives a damn. Oh look, another kid splattered on the floor of the stair well. And somebody who works at this school might want to look in the basement every once in a while.
Sure, the teenage love story was irritating, but it didn’t bother me all that much. I tuned out the narration which was probably a mistake, but this did make the film more tolerable, I wish I could’ve tuned out the pop songs, particularly the ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ cover, but I could even deal with that. But for an R-rated werewolf movie calling itself ‘The Howling’ I was expecting a little more werewolf mayhem. I didn’t get any of that. In fact, other than our lead actor using the f-word one time I think, I don’t know where the R-rating came from. No nudity and mostly implied violence, it’s almost a family-friendly werewolf movie, that is if families aren’t offended by sitting through 90 minutes worth of whiney teen angst.
But I did like the way the werewolves looked when they finally decided to make an appearance near the end of the movie, and as we pointed out, this movie obviously isn’t made for me. So here you go demographic, a werewolf movie for your generation. And allow me to the first to tell you, it sucks to be you.