Werewolf Rising: A Macabre Review.

WEREWOLF RISINGStarring Melissa Carnell, Bill Oberst Jr., Matt Copko

Directed by BC Furtney

Greetings, you loveable creatures you. Today I’m taking the opportunity to do my very first review of a werewolf-themed horror movie. Werewolf Rising is a low-budget entry from Ruthless Pictures and Image Entertainment, and I was fortunate enough to have gotten a copy of the movie for reviewing purposes.  So let’s get into it and see what you’re in for.

Emma (Melissa Carnell) is a country girl who decided to try her luck in the big city.  She stayed there for a few years but all she seemed to get out of her time there was  a problem with alcoholism. So, in an attempt to escape temptation and get her life back on track, she decides to return home.  Unfortunately, not long after Emma’s arrival, other issues spring up.  A recurring nightmare she has involving a man she’s never met is getting worse, two escaped convicts are lurking around in the woods nearby, Emma’s landlord Wayne decides he doesn’t exude enough creepiness and despite the big age difference starts hitting on her, and on top of all this there’s also a werewolf skulking about at night.  It seems she may have been a little too hasty in leaving the city life behind.  Emma eventually learns, however, that she is more a part of the weirdness than she realizes.

Sad as it is to say, Werewolf Rising had a few good things going for it, but it was also lacking in a number of areas. I think I’ll start with the positives. The acting had a few shaky moments, but overall I didn’t have any major issues.  I wasn’t expecting any Oscar-worthy performances in this, and there was a disappointing lack of Bill Oberst Jr., even though he has a high billing.  We mainly get to see him in the movie’s opening, and for the last 15 minutes of the movie, with a couple of quick appearances in between,

Otherwise the acting was passable.  Melissa Carnell has a pretty decent set of lungs on her, and she has a smile that just lights up her face.  She had to do a fair amount of physical acting, and I think she pulled that off well.  Brian Berry made a pretty convincing pervy drunk as Wayne, and Matt Copko did make me believe he was a shady escaped convict who can lay dying on a floor fairly convincingly.  Bill Oberst Jr. (who played escaped convict Rhett) held his role down as expected.  I have yet to see him in a role in which he doesn’t give 110% effort into; and somehow, in spite of his being a devout follower of Jesus, Bill seems to tap into some dark recess of his inner self and make his performances as an antagonist that much more creepy and disturbing.

Werewolf Rising

Even when singing show tunes, Bill Oberst Jr. feels the need to make it as creepy as possible.

While you might find the overall performance to be a little less than stellar, you cannot argue the dedication of the cast as well as the crew.  Nighttime filming was done under very cold conditions, and Oberst Jr., Kopko, and Irena Murphy had to perform at times in little to no clothing, and at times while being covered in fake blood.  That is deserving of some praise in itself.

The fact that there is a werewolf in this movie seemed like it was a secondary aspect of the story at times; instead having a little more focus on the characters and their individual flaws.  And to be honest, after the werewolf is revealed, a part of me wished the movie had stayed on the main focus altogether.  The costume was laughable at best, exuding zero terror whatsoever whenever it appeared on-screen.  I know a low-budget can restrict what you can pull off and all, so I can’t really go off too much about it.  I think that in this case it would have been better off to hide the werewolf more, instead using some camera tricks that would hide the negatives of its appearance, and accentuate the positives of what a werewolf is capable of.  A quick claw shot here, shredded chest flesh there.  I don’t know, something like that.  the only benefit of the costume that I can see is that Taylor Horneman, who played the werewolf, must have been pretty warm in it at night while everyone else froze their asses off.

I thought the camerawork was fine throughout.  No spastic movements, no 20 quick cuts in ten second intervals; just the way I like it.  If anything, it was rather plain, which isn’t always a bad thing.  The music wasn’t much to behold, however.  One of the numbers was just a single piano note played over and over with some other background instrument there to try to reduce the monotony.  To be honest, in some ways the music reminded me of John Carpenter’s Halloween music, except somehow managing to seem a little more amateurish sounding.  Still, it’s better than anything I could do, so I can’t say a whole lot.

Werewolf Rising

“So, you like mounting animal heads on your wall? How do YOU like being mounted by an animal for once?”

Emma’s dream that involves Rhett isn’t really explained until the very end, and though the dream was shown pretty early into the movie, the whole explanation as to why still seemed like it was shoehorned in at the last minute.  So throughout the movie, I was trying to make sense as to why Emma had the dream in the first place.  Normally I like to have something happen in a movie that keeps me guessing the why of it all, but it just doesn’t work here.  The movie is only about 77 minutes, and I think that an extra ten minutes to build up Emma’s connection with Rhett and the whole werewolf thing would have gone a long way to making the movie flow a little smoother.

So unfortunately, Werewolf Rising isn’t a standout movie by any stretch.  At the very least, the werewolf should have a little more focus on it, given the movie title and all.  This is why one of my all-time favorite werewolf movies is The Wolfman.  It was the near-perfect telling of a man who suffers the unimaginable guilt and misery that goes with the knowledge that he is changing into a monster and killing people and is unable to do anything about it.  In fact, I may have to watch that again sometime soon.

Anyway, if you’re a Bill Oberst. movie completionist (and you should be), watch this movie.  If the idea of laughing at an absurd werewolf costume tickles your fancy, watch this movie.  If you want a movie that favors practical effects over CGI garbage, again watch this movie.  Otherwise, it’s a bit difficult to recommend.  As I mentioned earlier though, the running time is short, and thus it doesn’t feel like it takes forever to get to the end.  Release dates for Werewolf Rising are September 22, 2014 in the U.K., and October 14, 2014 in the U.S.  Until next time, rest in peace.

Macabre Rating: 2 out of 5 tombstones.

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