Director – BC Furtney
Starring – Melissa Carnell, Bill Oberst Jr, Matt Copko, Brian Berry
Run Time – 75 minutes
Release Date – Monday 8th September 2014
Label – Image Entertainment
Emma (Carnell) is a twenty-something from the city that returns to her childhood home that she hasn’t been to in 15 years. It is a secluded house in Arkansas that is ideal for the reason she is there: to kick her alcohol addiction. She want’s to get dry and clear her mind. She encounters her neighbours Wayne (Berry), who she remembers from being a child, and the sexy but dangerous Johnny Lee (Copko). Both seem a little weird and are very interested in the attractive Emma.
Something else has an interest in Emma, out in the woods that surround her home. She keeps hearing howling late at night and is informed by Johnny Lee of wolves in the area. Yet the howling seems to be coming from an animal much bigger and more powerful than a ‘normal’ wolf. Emma starts having horrible dreams involving the woods and a blood soaked man (Oberst Jr) that is an escaped convict – but what role does he play in the nightly howls?
A modern werewolf picture that isn’t too melodramatic and obsessed with pandering to yearning teen girls, Werewolf Rising is a brilliant piece of direct-to-video storytelling and high quality acting.
The cast is limited to a small number of actors that thankfully can handle the large chunks of screen time their characters receive as a result. Carnell as the detoxing Emma plays a warm and friendly woman struggling with a problem that is bigger than her. Berry slowly morphs from caring family friend to lusty pervert in very creepy scenes. Copko portrays a cheery neighbour who it is evident has a dark side that threatens to erupt at any moment. The most disturbing performance is from Oberst Jr, although he is missing from the bulk of the film, as he is extremely intense in every scene he does appear in. It’s rare that a low-budget straight-to-DVD horror has this high a calibre of acting, all the performances are very rewarding as a result.
The plot is about a werewolf but there seems to be a more compelling and emotional story at work too. Emma and her battle against alcohol, plus Wayne admitting to similar issues, is interesting as she battles inner demons as well as external ones in the woods. The fear of succumbing to booze is as scary to her as the danger of being attacked by the werewolf. She also has to battle with the unwanted advances of Wayne as his sexual longing becomes menacing. The movie will create a feeling of uneasiness during the moments of Wayne’s creepy lusting.
There are a few minor issues. Some continuity errors like wounds changing positions on people can be over looked but there is one that is a little to big to overlook. Near the end of the movie Emma gives in to her yearning for alcohol when she discovers a bottle of vodka. She gobbles it all down and passes out. The issue with this is that she wakes up minutes later and is completely sober. Also, the werewolf is not that scary when fully shown. It’s painfully clear it is an actor running around in a head-to-toe costume holding his hands in front of him as if he were Orlok in Nosferatu.
Ultimately it’s a gripping and creepy tale of combating internal and external horrors with plenty to think about to supplement the scares.
8 out of 10.