Last train. Full moon. All change.
Writesr: Mark Huckerby, Nick Ostler
Director: Paul Hyett
Howl is a British monster movie. Given the film’s title and the fact that the very opening shot is a full moon, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that the monsters involved are werewolves.
The story centres around Joe (Ed Speleers), a young guard on a late night train out of London Waterloo station. For the first part of the film we’re introduced to the various characters as Joe checks tickets – a nice mechanism for given us a quick character sketch of each of them. Then Joe takes a nap (no, it’s not ‘all a dream’!) until he is woken by the train screeching to a halt after hitting something on the track.
The driver (Sean Pertwee – blink and you’ll miss him) leaves his cab to investigate… and doesn’t return. It turns out that the isolated woodland in which they’ve broken down is home to a werewolf who sees the train as a tasty canned snack. From here the film becomes a survival story with the werewolf trying to get into the train. The question is, as usual, which if any of the characters will survive?
It’s all decently done. The characters fall into the usual disaster movie stereotypes – the funny one, the bitchy one, the bastard, etc. They’re not original but at least they’re not the interchangeable teenagers we so often get. Acting is good, especially Speleers and Duncan Preston (a very familiar face) as Ged. There’s also a degree of character development, especially for Joe.
With any monster movie the monster itself is often its downfall, and that’s especially true of werewolves. The monster makeup in Howl is decent enough, but Hyett is still smart enough to keep it in the shadows most of the time.
Overall it’s a solid job. It’s just nothing special. For all the closed space and tension between the characters I never really felt the claustrophobia and menace that I assume the movie was aiming for. The story also is workmanlike but pretty much by the book, all the way to the ending (which I can’t deny is dramatically satisfying!).
So Howl is a decent enough little film and I certainly don’t regret the time I spent watching it, but I’m unlikely to watch it again.