Steven M. Smith as The Crawling Creature. Image Credit: "The Howling"/ Greenway Entertainment

We review Steven M. Smith’s homage to the classic horror films of yesteryear in his new movie The Howling.

The Howling on Amazon Prime is not a remake of the werewolf movie of the same title. The film is a British horror B-film, written and directed by Steven M. Smith. Most of the movie is shot in black and white, with some of the scenes having a splash of colour to highlight their importance.

The Howling synopsis

Life and death is the substance of The Howling. Thirty years ago, a millionaire scientist was performing experiments on animals and humans. One day he, along with his experiments, disappeared.

The townsfolk believed one of his experiments escaped and killed him. Now he’s a local urban legend of the community. His experiments run free in the woods; even Rathbone is wandering the woods at night.  Three teenagers set out to discover the truth behind the legend.

What it’s really about

The horror film stars Jon-Paul Gates as the mysterious mad-scientist, Dr. Rathbone. He must discover the cure to defeat death by developing a serum that will give him immortality. In one scene, he tells his victim, Kirsty, played by Tiffany-Ellen Robinson, “Death, itself, is the greatest predator of them all. Death will always capture its prey.” This is the best line in the whole movie.

The Classics

The Howling
Welcome to Dr. Rathbone home. Stay awhile and meet his family. Photo credit: Screenshots: “The Howling” / Greenway Entertainment

The movie pays tribute to the classic ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s horror films, such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Wolf Man, Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula, and the 1977 movie, The Island of Dr. Moreau.

So is The Howling a good film?

At the beginning of the film, the makeup on the blonde is not up to par. But you forget that when Smith’s character goes from a standing creature to a crawling creature due to a stab wound in the leg. It happens to be one of my favourite scenes.  The makeup improves as the movie plays on, especially on those who are representing the monsters.

rathbornandwife
Rathbone and his wife (The Bride). Image Credit: Screenshot “The Howling” / Greenway Entertainment

The chemistry you see in the film stands out between Rathbone and his wife (The Bride), played by Elizabeth Saint. It’s easy to tell he’s doing all of this to save her. Another chemistry is the banter between Jason, played by Eirik Knutsvik, and Sophia, played by Maria Austin. The way they argue and act towards each other, you would have thought they were a couple.

Other then those interactions, the rest of the acting is emotionless and unrelatable. You would think Jason, especially Sophia, would be more concerned about Kristy’s disappearance.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie touches upon the concern, but it doesn’t get any deeper than that.  Speaking of Kristy, she plays a good diva, but she worries about Wi-Fi and getting a signal, so she can check social media, then getting a call out for help.

It’s great the movie pays homage to the classics, and I don’t mind the low budget makeup and special effects. It’s the acting I had problems with. The characters are not believable, and I couldn’t get attached to any of them.  When it comes to writing, readers love getting involved with the characters’ lives. In The Howling, there is no cheering or booing for any of the characters.

Another problem was the scenes. Some of the scenes are not explained and left us wondering how anything happened and how the characters ended up in the scenes. I’m not sure if the film was rushed through, but it felt like it was.

 

All in all, The Howling certainly has strong aspects. But it falls far short of the classics it draws so much inspiration from.

So what’s your take on The Howling? Let us know!

If you enjoyed this, read the Digital Fox article discussing jump scares and why they have lost their power.